What is Carpal Tunnel syndrome and how best to treat it?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome anatomical diagram

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful disorder of the hand caused by pressure on nerves that run through the wrist, it is highly common and occurs only in adults.

The caring and supportive team at Randwick Plastic Surgery are experienced in treating and effectively managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

In this blog article, we discuss what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is, what symptoms to look out for, common causes and the treatment options available.

What is the Carpal Tunnel?

The carpal tunnel is a passageway in the wrist. It’s comprised of the arching carpal tunnel bones and the ligament connecting the pillars of the arch. It houses the median nerve and tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm. The median nerve is a conduit for sensation from the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers of the hand.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel at the wrist. This occurs when the ligament thickens over time, or when swelling or a change in the position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel compresses and irritates the median nerve. It can affect one or both hands.

What are the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms usually start gradually and can cause:

  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hand and fingers
  • Swollen fingers
  • Weakness when gripping objects with one or both hands.
  • Clumsiness in the hand
  • Pain or numbness in the hand and up the arm that is worse at night, interrupting sleep.

Commons Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

In some cases, the cause cannot be found. Sometimes there is a combination of factors such as:

Arthritis – various types of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation and swelling.

Pregnancy – the hormones associated with pregnancy cause general fluid retention, which can compress the nerve. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome triggered by pregnancy usually goes away soon after birth.

Wrist fractures – bone fragments can irritate the tenosynovium or reduce the amount of space in the carpal tunnel.

Congenital factors – some people have a smaller carpal tunnel than others.

Overuse injury – the tendons in the carpal tunnel can become irritated and inflamed by awkward postures or repetitive hand movements.

How to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Non- Surgical Treatment

CTS is usually managed by nonsurgical means initially. This may provide significant or complete relief, which means that surgery is not needed.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Activity modification
  • Weight loss and exercise
  • Splint – usually at night
  • Steroid injection


If symptoms persist after trying non-surgical treatment, then surgery may be necessary.

During surgery, the transverse carpal ligament is divided. This is the ‘roof’ of the carpal tunnel and division of it creates more space, thus relieving pressure on the median nerve and releasing the carpal tunnel.

Surgery can be performed by either open or endoscopic (keyhole) technique. Results are generally the same for both procedures, recovery however is usually quicker with the keyhole technique because it requires smaller incisions in the skin, but not every patient is suitable for keyhole surgery.

Please contact the team at Randwick Plastic Surgery if you have signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that interfere with your normal activities and sleep patterns. Permanent nerve and muscle damage can occur without treatment.

Find out more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the options provided at Randwick Plastic Surgery.

The friendly, caring and highly experienced team at Randwick Plastic Surgery are here to help, please contact us today!