Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression disorder. It is caused by pressure on the median nerve (one of the main nerves to the hand) in the carpal tunnel in the palm of the hand where the nerve enters the hand from the wrist. The carpal tunnel is formed by a U-shaped series of bones with a tight ligament closing the top. Pressure on the nerve can cause pins and needles, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand and affects the thumb, index, middle and sometimes ring fingers.
It can be treated in milder cases with anti-inflammatories, steroids and splints. In severe cases or where initial treatments have not been enough to relieve the symptoms adequately, surgery is necessary.
Carpal tunnel release is the surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. This involves releasing the carpal ligament which lies above the nerve in the palm of the hand. This creates more room in the carpal tunnel and relieves the pressure on the nerve. It can be done under local anaesthetic and as a day case. The surgery is done through a short scar on the hand. Recovery of the nerve varies depending how long it has been compressed and how severely it has been damaged. It may recover very quickly but where the damage is severe, recovery may not be complete or take long time. Future damage to the nerve from pressure is prevented by releasing the carpal tunnel.