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Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome can give you symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and burning in your thumb and fingers. You may feel weakness in your hand and be dropping things more than usual. There may be muscle atrophy, or reduced muscle bulk, in the muscle at the base of the thumb.

The Carpel tunnel is a structure in your wrist made up of bone and ligament which encloses muscle tendons for the thumb and fingers, apart from the little finger, and the Median nerve. If there is swelling in the Median Nerve, there will be compression, leading to the above symptoms.

There may be inflammation of the Median Nerve due to overuse. This may occur in people who are using computers for long periods of time, and exaccerbated if they are hunching forward. There may be compression of other nerves further up the arm causing problems elsewhere.

About a third of pregnant women will get Carpel tunnel Syndrome due to fluid retention in their wrists. This is most common in the third trimester.

It is often useful to apply icepacks to the wrist to try to reduce the swelling for 10-15 minutes several times a day. Some people have found it is helpful to soak their wrists in warm water before stretching the wrists. It may help to wear a brace at night to prevent the wrist flexing during the night which causes the compression. You may also want to wear it when at work. When you take it off remember to stretch the wrists to prevent stiffness. It may help to use wrist supports, if you are not wearing a brace, when using the computer and to take regular breaks and to stretch the wrists forward and backwards.

An Osteopath can diagnose the problem by examining the wrist, as well as other structures such as the the arm, shoulder, neck and back which may be contributing towards the problem. They can suggest stretches and postural changes to try to alleviate the symptoms. They can give treatment to reduce restrictions and tightness. You may be prescribed corticosteroids by your doctor. As a very last resort if none of that works, you may consider surgery to release the ligament around the carpel tunnel.