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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve is compressed in the Carpal Tunnel at the wrist. The CTS is caused by a decreased amount of space inside the tunnel itself, due to e.g. inflammation of the joint membranes, arthrosis, tumors or soft-tissue swelling during pregnancy. All these factors can increase pressure and narrow the carpal tunnel and cause nerve compression.

What are the symptoms of CTS?

Symptoms of CTS vary from tingling or numbness in the fingers or hand to pain in the fingers. Usually, pain persists for several months and is worse at night. Pain can also occur in moments of increased stress, e.g. when holding a phone, when driving or doing sports. In the course of time, symptoms can worsen and people might feel numbness in the fingers during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to perform manual tasks. If complaints persist, the muscles at the base of the thumb may become atrophic.

How is CTS diagnosed?

Your doctor will do several tests to check the function of your hand and wrist regarding feeling and motor skills. There are several types of tests, the so-called provocation tests, which provoke complaints and help diagnose CTS. Furthermore, nerve conduction velocity is measured and radiographic examination is performed.

How is CTS treated?

CTS treatment usually begins conservatively. There are several non-surgical treatments, as e.g. anti-inflammatory medication, wrist brace and resting of the wrist. If the symptoms persist after trying conservative therapy, surgery may be the best option. Surgery involves making an incision in the fibrous sheath around the carpal tunnel. The tunnel is then opened up to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Depending on the results of the diagnosis your doctor will propose the best treatment for you.

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