‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to try to help.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer on 22 August 2012, to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper.
“Dear Doctor, I have been experiencing numb fingers and a tingling/burning sensation in my wrist, particular bad at night and early morning. I am yet to visit my GP, but feel that this may be carpal tunnel syndrome. What are my options as the pain is affecting my ability to sleep and work”. Joan, Sussex
Mr Bhat, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, says, "Dear Joan, the symptoms you have described are a text book description of Carpal tunnel syndrome. In the early stages, most patients can be treated with a splint that immobilises the wrist. The splint helps rest the inflamed median nerve and must be worn at night for three months. If symptoms persist, a steroid injection can be tried. This can help confirm the diagnosis and dramatically improve the symptoms, as the injected steroid is a very strong anti-inflammatory drug. However, in the longer term, symptoms usually return after steroid injection. Ultimately, a significant number of patients will require surgery to reliably get rid of the symptoms.
Surgery is usually done through a formal open incision by most surgeons. Some surgeons perform an endoscopic release. I do the mini open carpal tunnel release, which combines the benefits of both operations and avoids most of the risks of both. I am available for appointments at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital on Wednesdays."