What is it?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that opens into the hand. It is surrounded by the bones of the wrist (underneath) and the transverse carpal ligament (over the top). The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel and gives sensation to the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and ring finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder of the hand caused by pressure on the main nerve that runs through the wrist. Symptoms include numbness, pins and needles, and pain (particularly at night). Anything that causes swelling inside the wrist can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, including repetitive hand movements, pregnancy and arthritis.
How is it treated?
A small incision is made in the palm, and occasionally into the wrist as well, to expose the transverse carpal ligament. The ligament is then cut to reduce pressure on the underlying median nerve. Relief from pain and numbness can be immediate or might improve over time.