Carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of repetitive strain injury to the wrist caused by excessive compression of the arteries, veins and nerves that supply the hand as they pass through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.
This tunnel is shaped like a letter ‘D’ lying on its side and consists of an arch of small bones which is held in place by a band of fibrous tissue. If the ligaments become slack, the arch will flatten, and the nerves, arteries and tendons within the tunnel will become compressed.
Patients experience numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in the hand.
X-rays of the wrist and studies to measure the rate of nerve conduction in the area confirm the diagnosis.
Most patients will eventually require minor surgery to release the pressure. This can now be performed by an endoscope with minimal scarring. Permanent damage to the structures in the wrist and hand can occur if not treated, but the operation normally gives a lifelong cure.