Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common disabling condition of the hand, caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. It can be extremely painful, causing numbness, tingling, itching and weakness in the palm of the hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers.
- CTS affects 7 – 16% of the UK population
- Approximately 1 in 20 people in the UK will develop CTS during their life
- It is the most common form of nerve entrapment
- CTS peaks in adults in their late 50s
- It is 3 times more common in women than men, becoming more likely to develop as you get older
Who does CTS affect?
It is uncertain why some people develop CTS, but the following factors could play a part:
Evidence has shown that CTS may be a hereditary syndrome, due to an abnormality in the genes that distribute myelin, a substance that insulates nerve fibres. Without the correct distribution of myelin, numbness and pain felt from CTS may be heightened, due to hereditary complications.
Hand and Wrist Positioning
Carrying out activities that include extreme flexion or extension of the hand and wrist over an extended period can lead to increase pressure on the nerve.
Medical and Health Conditions
Rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid gland imbalance, obesity and diabetes are conditions often linked with CTS.
Occupations that require repeated movement with the hand, wrist or arm may increase your risk of developing CTS. Individuals who work with vibrating tools and occupations such as dentists, hairdressers, bakers and musicians are more prone to developing the condition, particularly if working in a cold environment.
Repetitive Hand and Wrist Movements
Performing repetitive hand and wrist movements or activities for a prolonged period can irritate the tendons in the wrists, resulting in swelling that puts pressure on the median nerve.
Trauma to the wrist such as a sprain, dislocation or fracture can result in swelling, contributing to the development of CTS.
CTS is common in pregnancy, affecting up to 50% of women. Although experts are not entirely sure what makes it so common, hormone related swelling is believed to be the cause of the condition. Just as fluid retention can cause ankles to swell; it can also cause swelling that leads to CTS.
CTS only affects people working on keyboards with a mouse.
CTS should not be confused with repetitive strain injury. Scientific studies have confirmed that people working in manual occupations, particularly in cold weather are more likely to develop CTS than office personnel working on computers.
CTS causes permanent damage to the hands.
If left untreated, CTS may cause permanent damage to the hands, but in most cases, management of the condition can help you regain the full use of your hands and ease or eliminate the symptoms.
CTS only affects people middle-aged or older.
Although CTS is more common in these age groups, it can affect men and women of all ages, both young and old.
I will need to have surgery if I develop CTS.
If diagnosed early, CTS can successfully be managed without the need for surgery. Identifying and eliminating factors that are causing you pain, along with minimising activities that worsen your symptoms can reduce the need for surgery.
In the early stages of CTS a steroid injection may be very effective and this can be performed in an outpatient clinic.
For more advanced CTS, surgery is usually advisable to treat and prevent deterioration of symptoms. The extent of patient symptoms can be determined in clinic by a specialist.
I will not be able to work for a long period if I have Carpal Tunnel Release surgery.
In most cases, the majority of office workers can return to work within a week, although manual workers who perform heavy labour may need to allow up to 6 week to recover from surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is a very common procedure and is usually performed wide awake under local anaesthetic. The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and can be performed in an outpatient setting.
Although there is no sure fire way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, the following strategy may help:
- Regularly stretch your hands and wrists
- Take frequent breaks when working or performing activities that could cause CTS
- Use ergonomic tools and set up an ergonomic workplace station
- Maintain good posture
- Regularly change your position so you are not in the same position for long periods of time
If you have developed CTS and conservative treatments have failed to work, Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is the recommended procedure to eliminate the condition.
It is the most commonly preferred surgical procedure by hand surgeons worldwide, and the number of operations is expected to double between 2011 and 2030.
Carpal Tunnel Release surgery is available at One Ashford Hospital’s Hand and Wrist Clinic with Mr Chris James. We offer a fixed-price cost of only £1,075 for surgery carried out as an Outpatient procedure. Initial consultations are available with short waiting times.
One Ashford Hospital is well placed to see patients from Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone, Dover, Folkestone and all surrounding areas. To book an appointment, call the hospital direct on 01233 364 022 or email here
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