Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment UK: Expert Options Explained

OUCH! If you’ve got tingling, numbness, and pain in your hands, especially at night, you’re not alone. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common condition, but it can be frustrating and disruptive. What is Carpal Tunel Syndrome? This happens when a key nerve in your wrist (the median nerve) gets squeezed, causing those uncomfortable symptoms. It’s like having a tourniquet just on the nerve, stopping the blood getting to the nerve.. Why is it important not to ignore Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Getting the right treatment can help you find relief and prevent long-term problems. If it is left too. long, the changes can be permanent. Impact on daily life: Simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, holding a pen, or even carrying groceries can become a struggle. I’m here to explain more and get you the help you need to get rid of the pain and numbness… Symptoms:

Common Features:

  • Tingling or numbness in your thumb, index, middle, and sometimes ring finger
  • Worse at night, can wake you from sleep
  • Hand weakness, especially with gripping or pinching
  • A feeling like your fingers are swollen (even if they’re not)
  • Pain that can travel up your arm
  • It can even cause shoulder pain!

If you don’t have at least some of these then it is likely you do not have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Causes:

The Basics:

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist. A key nerve (the median nerve) and several tendons pass through it. When there’s swelling or pressure, the nerve gets pinched – that’s carpal tunnel syndrome.

Myths about carpal tunnel syndrome:

Lots of people think typing causes it, but that’s not always true. It’s often a mix of factors and some causes include things like pregnancy, arthritis, or repetitive hand motions.

How does work affect carpal tunnel syndrome?

Jobs involving vibrating tools, forceful hand motions, or repetitive wrist bending / flexing for extended periods can increase your risk. If your work involves these factors, talk to me about ways to minimise strain on your wrists.

Diagnosis

How it’s Made:

I will ask about your symptoms, do a physical examination, and may order some tests if I’m even slightly in doubt:

Nerve tests

(nerve conduction study – NCS) to check if the nerve is working properly

Imaging

(ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging – MRI) to look for swelling or other issues.

Ruling Out Similar Conditions:

Sometimes hand pain can be from arthritis, neck problems, or other nerve issues. I can help sort that out.

Simple tests you can do at home:

Here are some simple tests:
  1. Tapping on your wrist creases (Tinel’s sign) sends electricity down your hands into your fingers or even up your forearm
  2. Holding your wrists in a bent position (Phalen’s test), to see if these trigger your symptoms

Treatment Options

Tiered Approach

Rest & Splints:

Taking breaks, avoiding aggravating activities, and wearing a wrist splint (especially at night) can often help.

Medication:

Over-the-counter or prescription painkillers, or in some cases, steroid injections, can reduce inflammation and pain.

Therapy:

Hand exercises and stretches can be beneficial, and therapists can teach you ways to modify activities.

Exercises:

These might focus on improving flexibility and range of motion, while others can strengthen the muscles supporting your wrist. Nerve gliding exercises are sometimes used to help the median nerve move more freely.

Surgery:

If other treatments fail, carpal tunnel release surgery is very effective. It’s a short procedure to relieve pressure on the nerve. I do these under ultrasound-guidance through a 3 mm incision as opposed to an old-school, open approach which is 2-3 cm. The recovery is a matter of days to a week compared to several weeks!

My Expertise:

Experience:

This is one of the most common diagnoses I deal with but I am always looking for ways to make your experience and outcome better! I’ve treated thousands of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. This experience means I can tailor the best treatment plan for you.

Bespoke treatment plan:

I’ll work closely with you to understand not just your symptoms, but how carpal tunnel syndrome is specifically impacting your daily life. This allows me to create a treatment plan that aligns with your individual needs and goals and not just push you into surgery straight away.

Compassion:

I understand how carpal tunnel can impact your life and I’m focused on getting you back to the activities you love.

Come and see me

If carpal tunnel syndrome is disrupting your sleep, your work, or your hobbies, don’t wait to seek help. Schedule a consultation today to discuss the treatment options that are right for you.

Meet Alistair Phillips, Your Orthopaedic Hand and Trauma Surgeon

Ali Phillips is a fellowship-trained hand surgeon dedicated to educating and empowering his patients. He believes in clear information and shared decision-making. When not in the clinic, you might find him wing foiling or on a cycling adventure. Connect: alistairphillips.co.uk @ali.thehandsurgeon on IG, Twitter/X, Threads, FB and TikTok