What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Genetics, repetitive hand use and health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when surrounding tissues put pressure on the median nerve that runs through the arm thru to the carpal tunnel in the hand. When pressure builds, the following symptoms may be experienced:

  • Numbness and tingling of the fingers
  • Shock-like sensations from the fingers
  • Pain in the forearm or shoulder
  • Weakness of the hands

These symptoms may appear gradually and worsen as time goes by. It is essential that you seek Dr Heymans' help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms as they may only become more painful.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may involve splinting and bracing, steroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications, or nerve gliding exercises. When these treatments fail to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, carpal tunnel release surgery may be considered. Carpal tunnel release surgery may be done using open or minimally invasive endoscopic surgery.

Under general anaesthesia, during open surgery, a small incision may be made in order to expose the hand (carpal) ligament and divide it. By dividing it, Dr Heymans will increase the size of the tunnel to decrease the pressure on the median nerve.

What can I expect in terms of recovery?

It is normal to feel some swelling, pains and stiffness after a carpal tunnel release. After surgery, you will be advised to elevate and move your hand to avoid swelling and stiffness during recovery. You will be given a splint to wear on your hand for the next few weeks. For the next few months, you will be given advice on exercises to enhance recovery and mobility of your hand. It may take up to a year to regain full functioning of your hand and fingers, but your painful symptoms would have disappeared.