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Carpal tunnel syndrome

Work-related upper limb disorders

A common condition that causes a tingling sensation, numbness and possibly pain in the hand and fingers

About

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure on the nerve that crosses the front of your wrist. This is called the median nerve. The nerve runs through a tight tunnel, together with the tendons that bend your fingers.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome icon plus

    Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may include:

    • numbness in the hand and fingers
    • pins and needles
    • thumb weakness
    • clumsiness with fiddly things
    • a dull ache in the hand or arm

    These sensations develop gradually and tend to be worse at night.

  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will assess your ability to use your hand, wrist or arm, and look for signs of weakness in the muscles surrounding your thumb. Holding your wrist elevated or flexing it completely are commonly performed simple tests for carpal tunnel syndrome. These tests tend to induce the pain, numbness or tingling in your hand associated with the condition. A blood test may also be carried out if your consultant suspects a condition related to carpal tunnel syndrome, such as diabetes, thyroid problems or arthritis.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome disappears without treatment, or the symptoms reduce by introducing simple prevention measures. If the problem persists, your treatment may be non-surgical, such as using a wrist splint or steroid (corticosteroid) injections. Alternatively, your consultant may recommend minor surgery on the tight ligament (called the flexor retinaculum) that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. This stops the nerve from being compressed.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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