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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

July 4, 2024

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can occur when the median nerve in the wrist becomes compressed. This nerve runs through a narrow passage called the carpal tunnel, which is made up of transverse carpal ligaments and carpal bones. When the median nerve is pressed or squeezed, it causes certain symptoms in the hand and wrist, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain. These sensations may extend up the arm and, in severe cases, can even lead to muscle atrophy or thinning of muscle mass in the thumb.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are many factors that contribute to the development of this condition. The most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are: 

  • Repetitive hand and wrist motions, especially those that involve bending the wrist or gripping,
  • The smaller size of carpal tunnels or anatomical differences that run through a family, 
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy, which can cause fluid retention and swelling,
  • Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid disorders,
  • Wrist injuries or trauma, such as fractures, sprains, or bruising.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often start gradually and may come and go at first. As the condition worsens, the symptoms become more frequent or persistent. The following are the common signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the palm of the hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers,
  • Pain or discomfort in the wrist, palm, or forearm,
  • Weakness in the hand or difficulty gripping objects,
  • A feeling of swelling in the fingers, even though no visible swelling is present,
  • Feeling of “pins and needles” in the finger, 

These symptoms usually get worse at night or after waking up in the morning

Risk Factors

Some individuals may be more prone to have carpal tunnel syndrome due to various risk factors:

  • Women are three times more likely than men to develop CTS, possibly due to smaller wrist size and hormonal changes,
  • Those with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus,
  • Individuals who are obese or have metabolic disorders,
  • People working in occupations that involve repetitive wrist movements, vibrating tools, or prolonged computer use,
  • Older adults, especially those over the age of 50, as the risk increases with age. 

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the condition and how long you have had it. In mild cases, simple lifestyle changes and home remedies may be enough to manage symptoms by: 

  • Properly resting the affected hand and wrist for at least two weeks
  • Applying cold packs to reduce swelling
  • Wearing a wrist splint at night to keep the wrist straight
  • Performing gentle stretching exercises for the hands and wrists
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief

For more severe cases or if symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend:

  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pressure on the median nerve
  • Physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the wrist and hand muscles
  • Surgery to release the ligament pressing on the median nerve. In the surgical procedure, the transverse carpal ligament is cut to relieve the pressure of the median nerve. This can be done through traditional open surgery or minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, which uses smaller incisions and specialized instruments.

Cost of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment 

In India, the cost of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment differs based on the extent of pain, any damage and the type of treatment required:

  • Initial consultation with a doctor: Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500
  • Diagnostic tests like nerve conduction studies and EMG: Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 5,000
  • Corticosteroid injections: Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000 per injection
  • Physical therapy sessions: Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 per session
  • Carpal tunnel release surgery: Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 60,000 

Note that actual costs change with specific hospitals, locations, and individual cases. Many hospitals may even offer payment plans and insurance assistance to help patients manage the expenses associated with treatment.

If you are seeking expert care for carpal tunnel syndrome, consider Apollo Spectra. Our skilled orthopedic team offers personalized treatment plans and advanced surgical options to help you find relief and regain hand function. Take the first step towards a pain-free life by booking an appointment today.

What are the early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Early signs of CTS include numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the palm of the hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers. These symptoms often occur and worsen at night and may wake you up from sleep.

Can carpal tunnel syndrome be prevented?

While it may not always be possible to prevent CTS, you can reduce your risk by: Maintaining good posture and wrist position when working or using tools, Taking frequent breaks and stretching your hands and wrists, Using ergonomic tools and workstations, Keeping your hands warm to prevent stiffness, Managing underlying medical conditions like diabetes and arthritis.

How long does it take to recover from carpal tunnel surgery?

The recovery period after carpal tunnel surgery varies depending on the type of surgery and individual factors. Most people can return to light activities within a few days to a couple of weeks. Complete recovery may take several months, and physical therapy is often recommended to regain strength and flexibility in the wrist and hand.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome a permanent condition?

CTS is not necessarily a permanent condition. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most people achieve complete relief from symptoms. However, if the condition is left untreated or it gets delayed in identifying the underlying cause, CTS can lead to permanent nerve damage and muscle weakness in the hand.

When should I see a doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you experience persistent numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in your hand and wrist that interferes with your daily activities and quality of life, it is best to consult a doctor. If you catch the condition early and start working on treatment with your doctor, you can prevent the condition from worsening.

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