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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common hand condition that causes hand numbness, pain and weakness. Symptoms occur when the median nerve that runs in the carpal tunnel becomes compressed.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

What Causes It?

The cause is usually unknown but some factors can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Overuse of the wrist in activities can contribute to development of the condition. This includes activities that involve:

  • Repetitive wrist movements
  • Prolonged awkward wrist positions
  • Prolonged firm grip or pressure on the palm
  • High speed or forceful finger movements (e.g. typing)
Signs And Symptoms
  • Numbness of the palm aspect of the thumb, index, middle and sometimes, half of the ring finger
  • Night pain causing one to wake from sleep
  • Clumsiness or difficulty with buttons
  • Muscle wasting

Carpal tunnel syndrome signs and symptoms

Diagnosis And Treatment

An accurate history and examination is usually sufficient to make a diagnosis. You may need to go for an X-ray if, an underlying bone problem is suspected. Your doctor may order a nerve test, called EMG, to confirm an abnormality of the nerve.

Treatment Options

If the symptoms are mild, you may be given conservative treatment such as:

  • Lifestyle modifications to reduce repetitive activity
  • Oral medication
  • Night splinting
  • Hand therapy and nerve gliding exercises
  • Steroid injection into the carpal tunnel


If the symptoms are more severe and persistent, you may be required to undergo minor surgery at day surgery clinics. Post operation hand rehabilitation is also available.

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

The aim of surgery is to prevent the worsening of symptoms by relieving the compression on the median nerve. It is typically a day surgery procedure done under local anaesthesia. The associated risks are:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scar formation
  • Incomplete release
  • Nerve injury
  • Pillar pain

Our department offers all modalities of carpal tunnel surgery including the open and semi-open techniques and the minimally invasive endoscopic carpal tunnel release.

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Procedure
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Procedure

For more information on our services at the Department of Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery, click here

Watch this 3D animation video to learn about what happens during a carpal tunnel release surgery:

Watch this video to learn about post-carpal tunnel release surgery care advice:

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