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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a medical condition that affects the nerves and tendons in the wrist. The symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness in the hand, pain, swelling, and stiffness.

What are the causes?

The causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be due to repetitive motion or pressure on the median nerve—the nerve that runs from your elbow to your fingers. This can cause swelling or inflammation in the tissues surrounding this nerve. In some people, this swelling can become so severe that it causes compression of the carpal tunnel—a narrow tubelike passageway in your wrist containing tendons and ligaments. This compression may cause symptoms such as numbness or weakness in your hand.

What are the treatment options?

There are three treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome: conservative, surgical, and physical therapy.

Conservative treatment involves a series of exercises designed to improve blood circulation in your wrists and hands, which can help relieve symptoms. Your consultant may recommend wearing a wrist brace at night to keep your wrist straight while you sleep. You may also be advised to take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen to ease pain and swelling.

Surgical treatment is recommended if conservative treatment has not alleviated your symptoms or if your condition worsens over time. Surgery involves cutting the ligament that puts pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel. This surgery is highly successful but does require rest and recovery for 6 – 8 weeks.

Physical therapy can help manage pain and reduce swelling after surgery by using heat and cold treatments, massage techniques, exercises for increasing flexibility in your wrist joints and other methods that help improve circulation throughout your body.