What is it

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that causesa tingling sensation,numbness and sometimes pain in the hand and fingers.

These sensations usually develop gradually and start off being worse during the night.They tend to affect the thumb, index finger andmiddle finger.

Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Read about the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome .

When to seek medical advice

See your GP if you're experiencing persistent symptoms of CTS. They can usually diagnose CTS by asking about your symptoms and examining your hand, wrist or arm.

Further tests in hospital may be required if the diagnosis is uncertain or to helprule out other conditions.

Read about diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome .

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve, whichcontrols sensation and movement in the hands.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in your wrist made up of small bones and a tough band of tissue thatacts as a pulley for the tendons that bend the fingers.

In most cases, it isn't known why the median nerve becomes compressed. However, somethingsdoincrease the risk ofCTS.

This includes:

  • a family history of CTS
  • pregnancy up to about 50% of pregnant women develop CTS
  • injuries to the wrist
  • other health conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
  • strenuous, repetitive work with the hand

CTS is more common in women and becomes more likely as you get older.

Read about the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome .

Treating carpal tunnel syndrome

In some cases, CTS disappears without treatment, or the symptoms reduce byintroducingsimple self care measures.

CTS in pregnant women often gets better within three months of the baby being born. Treatment may be needed if it persists for more than a few months after delivery.

Non-surgical treatments, such as wristsplints and corticosteroid injections,areeffective for some people with CTS.

Surgery may be requiredif these treatments fail to relieve the symptoms. It may also be usedif there's a risk of permanent nerve damage.

Read about treating carpal tunnel syndrome .

Surgery relieves the symptoms of mild CTS immediately. People with severe nerve damage can take a while to recover, or there may not be any improvement.

Depending on which hand was operated on and what your job involves, you'll usually be able to return to work within a few weeks of surgery.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017