Conditions

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the nerve that controls sensation and movement in the hands (median nerve).

The median nerve is responsible for two main functions:

  1. Relaying physical sensations – such as your sense of touch from your hand to your brain
  2. Relaying nerve signals – from your brain to your hand, allowing you to move your thumb

 

Any pressure on the median nerve can disrupt the nerve signals, affecting your sense of touch and hand movements.

A number of things increase the risk of developing CTS and these include:

  • Family history
  • Certain health conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Obesity
  • Oedema
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Pregnancy
  • Wrist injury
  • Certain activities involving:
    • Strenuous grip
    • Repetitive wrist flexion
    • Exposure to vibration
    • Playing a musical instrument

 

The symptoms of CTS tend to develop gradually and usually start off being worse at night or early in the morning.

The three main symptoms are:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain

 

These symptoms occur in:

  • The thumb
  • The index finger
  • The middle finger
  • Half of the ring finger

 

However, the tingling, numbness and pain can sometimes extend outside this area. These symptoms can be present in one or both hands, forearm and upper arm.

Other possible symptoms of CTS include:

  • A dull ache and discomfort in the hand, forearm or upper arm
  • A burning, prickling sensation in the hand, forearm or upper arm
  • A dry skin, swelling or changes in the skin colour of the hand
  • Becoming much less sensitive to touch
  • Weakness in the thumb/hand
  • Weakness and wasting away (atrophy) of the muscles in the thumb/hand

 

If you have CTS, your hand may become weak and you may find it difficult to grip certain objects. Your dexterity, which is the ability to use your hands effectively to carry out certain tasks, is often impaired. You may also find it difficult to use the affected fingers to carry out specific tasks, such as typing or fastening buttons.

Physiotherapy can help you regain the strength and dexterity in your hands whilst chiropractic can help to relieve pressure off the nerve.

* The contents of this condition is for information purposes only.