Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery by Dr Andrew MacLeod

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common condition which can cause symptoms ranging from mild annoyance to debilitating numbness. It is caused when a major nerve (the Median Nerve) entering the hand at the wrist joint becomes compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel.

Risk factors for CTS include diabetes, trauma, obesity and arthritis, but in most cases the cause is unclear.

What are the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Classic symptoms of the condition include numbness, pain and altered sensation (often “pins and needles”) on the thumb side of the palm of the hand, thumb and first three fingers, and sometimes the fingers can feel clumsy. The condition can be diagnosed with either clinical examination alone, or proven with Nerve Conduction Studies.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treated?

Non-surgical options to improve symptoms include cortisone injections at the wrist joint or splints to decrease pressure on the nerve. However, in many patients this is a temporary solution only. If symptoms continue or if patients wish to explore a more definitive solution, then referral to a surgeon for a minor procedure may be necessary.

Surgery to improve CTS symptoms involves decompressing the median nerve. This is achieved through a small incision in the palm of the hand near the wrist, where tight fibres compressing the median nerve are carefully divided. This is called a Carpal Tunnel Release (or Carpal Tunnel Decompression), and is a procedure which takes approximately 10-minutes to perform as a Day-Case, either under Local Anaesthesia, Sedation or a General Anaesthetic depending on individual circumstances and preferences.

Most patients have significant improvement in their Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms following this minor procedure.