Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome describes an irritation to the median nerve in the wrist within the ‘carpal tunnel’ – a small tunnel in the palm side of the central wrist. Because this nerve moves down the arm to innervate the ﬁngers (except your ﬁfth little ﬁnger), symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling in the hand, particularly the thumb, index and middle ﬁngers. While there is no main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, any activity or condition that places pressure on this nerve or reduces the space within the carpal tunnel contribute to its development including inﬂammatory conditions such as arthritis, wrist injuries, endocrine disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, as well as pregnancy. Repetitive wrist movements that bend the wrist may also contribute as well as prolonged compression of this part of the wrist during movements such as resting your wrists against the desk or computer while you type.
A ganglion cyst describes a cushion-like lump that develops at a joint or tendon. They vary in size from 8 – 25mm and are typically rounded with a thick ﬂuid centre. They commonly occur around the wrist, particularly at the back-hand side and can protrude on ﬂexing the wrist. Other areas they can present include the ﬁngers, knee, ankle and foot. While the exact cause remains unclear, it is suggested to be associated with the breakdown of joint tissue as well as irregularities to the joint capsule and surrounding tendons. While some ganglion cysts remain asymptomatic, they can cause pain that is worsened by moving the associated joint, swelling, tendon weakness where a ganglion is connected to a tendon and neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness and pain where a ganglion impinges on a nearby nerve. Symptoms vary in severity and your health professional will inform you of the best treatment option.