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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a rather uncomplicated medical condition. People having this condition experience numbness, pain or tingling sensation in their hand and arm. This happens when a major nerve called median nerve in the hand is compressed.

What causes carpel tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel usually happens due to overuse of the hand using similar movements. For example, it is more common among musicians, carpenters etc. It is more common amongst women.

Symptoms / when to call your doctor

If you have mild pain or numbness which disappears within 2 weeks, you can ignore it. It is best to seek doctor’s advice if:

  • Pain/ numbness does not go away even after trying home remedies for 2 weeks

  • You are losing complete sensation in your fingers or your hand

  • You are unable to work with the affected hand

Why you should see a doctor?

You should seek immediate help if you feel you are losing sensation of your hand or fingers. Ignoring these symptoms might cause permanent damage to the median nerve after which, working with the hand will become extremely difficult.

How is it diagnosed?

Usually, a simple physical examination of your hands and comparing the strengths of both hands is enough to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

To understand the problem further, the doctor might suggest imaging tests such as ultrasound, Xray or even MRI.

Dietary Restrictions

Regular diet can be resumed after surgery. However, it’s always better to:

  • Include high fibre foods

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome in early stages can be treated by simple remedies like taking more rest, applying ice compression.

Using a splint or taking anti-inflammatory medication also helps in relieving the symptoms.

However, if the symptoms are very severe, it is best to undergo a simple surgery.

Types of treatments

There are two types of surgeries which can help to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome. One of them is a minimally invasive procedure which is called endoscopic surgery and the other one is an open surgery.

Types of treatments:

SpecificsEndoscopic SurgeryOpen Surgery
IncisionVery small incision2-inch incision in wrist
Dietary RestrictionNoNo
Recovery TimeFasterSlower than endoscopic surgery

Endoscopic Surgery

In this procedure, an endoscope which is a thin tube with a camera is used to perform the surgery. The surgery is performed referring to the image which the camera shows on a screen.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia for the procedure

  • A small incision is made to insert the endoscope

  • Observing the image on the screen from the camera, a ligament is cut to release pressure from the median nerve

  • The incision is stitched

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • Outpatient or overnight procedure with mild pain

  • Complete recovery can take a few weeks or even a few months

Risks involved in the treatment:

There are very less complications through this treatment. Some of the risks may be:

  • allergic or adverse reaction to anaesthesia or other drugs

  • bleeding

  • nerve injury

  • injury to nearby blood vessels

  • infection

Open Surgery

This procedure involves opening up the wrist to expose the ligaments and median nerve. Due to the large incision, the healing time is longer.

Flow of the procedure:

  • Patient is given general anaesthesia for the procedure

  • A large 2-inch incision is made at the wrist

  • The ligament putting pressure on the median nerve is cut

  • The incision is stitched up and thick bandages are put on the wrist

Recovery Time and Dietary Advice:

  • The heavy bandage is typically removed after 1-2 weeks

  • It might take several months to completely recover from the surgery

Risks involved in the treatment:

The procedure involves a large incision. So, some of the risks of this surgery may be:

  • allergic or adverse reaction to anaesthesia or other drugs

  • bleeding

  • nerve injury

  • injury to nearby blood vessels

  • infection