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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common source of hand numbness, pain, and a burning or tingling sensation in your hand and fingers, which may result from repetitive motion or the use of devices like computer keyboards.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The tendons and nerve to the hand (median nerve) pass between strong ligaments (carpal ligaments) in the wrist and the wrist bones (carpal tunnel). This tunnel is narrow, so when the nerves or tendons inside the carpal tunnel swell or become inflamed (carpal tunnel syndrome), pressure on the nerve can pinch the nerve and cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the fingers and wrist. The nerve most commonly affected in carpal tunnel syndrome is the median nerve, the nerve that supplies feeling and movement to the thumb and "thumb-side" of the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than men and more often occurs in people 30 to 60 years old. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also common in pregnancy.


Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. Typing on a computer keyboard is probably the most common cause of carpal tunnel. Other causes include:

  • Sewing
  • Driving
  • Assembly line work
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate)
  • Sports such as racquetball or handball
  • Playing some musical instruments


Risk factors of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Certain health conditions appear to increase the risk of a person developing CTS. These include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • diabetes
  • gout
  • lupus (a condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissue)
  • under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
  • obesity; particularly in young people
  • damage or fracture to the wrist
  • oedema (excess fluid in the body?s tissue)
  • heart failure
  • Lyme disease (a bacterial infection that is caused by ticks)


Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • The main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are tingling, numbness or pain in the median nerve, which affects the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger
  • Pain extending to the elbow
  • Pain in wrist or hand in one or both hands
  • Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
  • Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb (in advanced or long-term cases)
  • Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags (a common complaint)
  • Weakness in one or both hands


Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Most physicians recommend trying non-surgical treatments (such as: splinting the wrist, using anti-inflammation medications, occupational therapy, workplace changes to improve your seating and how you use equipment at work, shots of corticosteroid medicine into the carpal tunnel) before recommending surgery.

The main aim of the carpal tunnel repair surgery (also called carpal tunnel release) is to cut open the carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the nerve and make more space for the nerve and tendons.

Carpal tunnel release is done with the patient under local or regional anesthesia, or under general anesthesia. First your surgeon will make a small incision (cut) in the palm of your hand near your wrist. Then he will cut the carpal transverse ligament to ease the pressure on the median nerve. Sometimes, tissue around the nerve is removed as well. Finally, the surgeon will close the skin and tissue underneath with sutures (stitches).

Endoscopic method of surgery: Sometimes surgeons do this procedure using a tiny camera that is attached to a monitor. The surgeon inserts the camera into your wrist through a very small incision and looks at the monitor to see inside your wrist. This is called endoscopic surgery. The instrument used is called an endoscope.

The surgery is usually very successful in relieving symptoms. Numbness or tingling that continues after surgery is usually due to damage to the nerve. A splint may be used to reduce wrist motion. Complete recovery takes about 4 weeks.


Carpal Tunnel Surgery Abroad

Healthbase has partnered with over 100 healthcare providers overseas like in Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, etc. for affordable carpal tunnel surgery which costs a fraction of what it does in the US. If you do not carry sufficient health insurance then medical tourism for carpal tunnel release offers a low cost high quality and high value option for you. Contact us for a FREE consultation with an orthopedic surgeon from our network of overseas healthcare providers.


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