Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common ailment that seems to affect women more than men. It can be quite troublesome, as one of the most characteristic symptoms, is that it tends to wake the sufferer up at night with painful tingling and numbness in the hands. This disturbed sleep makes the discomfort all the worse as the months and years go on.

Those that suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome may also notice some numbness or weakness of the hand, and may start to show symptoms like dropping cups of tea. Any action that requires prolonged or repetitive bending at the wrists will often precipitate the symptoms.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is due to compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel. The tunnel is a fibrous conduit with wrist bones at the base and sides. The roof is made up of a thick fibrous band called the flexor retinaculum.

If there is an increase fluid around the carpal tunnel, such as occurs with fluid retention in pregnancy, the resultant carpal tunnel syndrome is only temporary. However, the more common reason for carpal tunnel syndrome is a thickening of the flexor retinaculum band over time, making the space for the median nerve to pass through smaller and therefore leading to its compression.

This can occur as part of the aging process, hastened by certain occupations and medical conditions such as growth hormone excess.

If carpal tunnel syndrome is due to fluid retention it can be managed as a temporary condition with a splint to keep your wrist straight at night. It may be safe for your doctor to prescribe water tablets for this condition.

If it is a longer term, less reversible cause for the carpal tunnel, there are a number of ways to manage this condition. Wearing a splint at night to keep the wrist straight and less likely to compress the median nerve can provide relief. Alternatively your doctor can refer you for an injection of cortisone around the nerve.

The best long-term solution for this problem is surgery. The surgical procedure required can be done as a day surgery case. The results from surgery are good with most people achieving long term relief of the pain, numbness and tingling in their hands.


Diagram of the hand, showing the carpal tunnel and areas affected by carpal tunnel syndrome