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Carpal tunnel syndrome

12 March 2018

Are you an office worker sat at a keyboard all day, a carpenter using vibrating hand tools or a production line working carrying out repetitive tasks using your hands and wrists day in, day out?

If so you may be at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Your chosen hobby may also be a contributing factor, knitting, computer game play and gardening.

The pressure that is put on the median nerve from swelling and thickening of tissues near the carpal tunnel can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.

The main factors that lead to CTS include

  1. Heredity – Family history is associated with the disorder.
  2. Age/Sex – Women are three times more likely than men to develop this syndrome. It also occurs more frequently in people older than 50.
  3. Hormones – Hormonal changes related to pregnancy can play a major role and CTS may occur in both wrists.
  4. Repetitive hand movements – Jobs that require lots of use of the hands and wrists repeatedly, such as, computer users and typists, workers in manufacturing industries, and musicians, are more at risk.
  5. Medical conditions – Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, obesity and hypothyroidism all may lead to CTS.

Symptoms of CTS include

  • An ache or pain in your fingers, hand or arm.
  • Numb hands.
  • Tingling or pins and needles.
  • A weak thumb or difficulty gripping.

Prevention of CTS

Ensuring that your work station is set up correctly can help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome as can taking frequent breaks, performing stretching and strengthening exercises along with avoiding work in cold temperatures.

How is CTS diagnosed

Early diagnosis and treatment of CTS may help to avoid permanent damage to your median nerve.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome includes wearing of a splint or brace, pain relief injections or alternatively surgery may be an option.

If you think you may have carpal tunnel you may wish to seek advice from one of our hand specialists at Gatwick Park Hospital.

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