Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can develop for many years with no noticeable symptoms. However , when the first symptoms do appear they include burning or tingling sensations in the fingers, pain and numbness in the hand, an inability to grasp onto objects, and a weakness of the hands. Because Carpal Tunnel Syndrome involves the median nerve, it affects the parts of the hand that the median nerve supplies
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an amalgamation of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel. For some it’s due to a congenital predisposition while other factors may be trauma or injury to the wrist causing swelling such as sprain or fracture, too much wear of the pituitary gland, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis, work stress, the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal etc .
One of the most common clinical problems I see in my orthopedic practice is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). I’m sure you or someone you know has suffered from CTS. In the United States alone, well over 100, 000 people a year undergo carpal tunnel surgery. For such a common disorder, it’s amazing that doctors have so little understanding about what actually causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome reached epidemic proportions in the 90’s and has now achieved a status equaling pandemic proportions in the 21st century. With carpal tunnel syndrome having such devastating effects on millions of people each year, how do you know if you or someone you know has it?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is usually caused by repetitive finger and hand use (especially with improper positioning). Such repetitive movements of the fingers and hands can cause the median nerve to become compressed and irritated as it passes through the carpal tunnel.
Grocery checkers are so prone to carpal tunnel syndrome and similar injuries, that OSHA has specifically singled them out as a prime example of workers who need special considerations in their environment. The loss from workman’s comp and lost time is enough that many employers have worked hard to introduce injury prevention programs. Many of these employers have reported happily that their efforts have actual had a positive effect on work-related injuries and workers’ compensation costs.
What is the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed or pinched at the wrist. Some of the common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers
- Pain or aching in the hand, wrist, forearm, or shoulder
- Weakness in the hand, making it difficult to grip objects
- The sensation of shock or burning that radiates up the arm
- Difficulty with fine motor skills such as buttoning clothes or using a computer mouse or keyboard
- Reduced grip strength
- Worsening symptoms at night, which can disrupt sleep
- Swelling in the fingers or hand
It is important to note that these symptoms may vary in severity from person to person and may worsen over time if left untreated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Symptoms most often occur in the parts of the hand supplied by the median nerve: the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger.
If your little finger is not affected, this may be a sign that the condition is carpal tunnel syndrome, because the little finger is usually controlled by a different nerve (the ulnar nerve) than the thumb and other fingers.
some common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome
Cortisone can be used wisely as a part of a carpal tunnel treatment program along with the implementation of proper stretches add exercises, the most important tool that can be used to recover from carpal tunnel. If cortisone is utilized, it is good for the patient to take this time, when the carpal tunnel is not inflamed, to be on a conservative therapy program to correct the existing muscle imbalance in the wrist joint and eliminate the carpal tunnel symptoms for good.
The median nerve controls the feeling in the palm side of the thumb, index finger, and long fingers as well as the muscles around the base of the thumb. When swelling or anything else makes the tunnel smaller, pressure builds up causing pain and numbness. Depending upon the nature of the condition, carpal tunnel syndrome may be treated with prescribed drugs, simple exercise therapy, or even surgery in severe cases. Is it imperative to take action immediately if you suspect problems. Watch for signs of the condition and do your research on the subject to determine what you need to do to prevent serious health risk.
This method might be new to normal people, but people who suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome would know that this is so far the best method of prevention and treatment. Patients who undergo surgery are frequently advised to exercise their wrists lightly post-surgery (after 2 months). This is to let our hand muscles to go back to the original state. Of course , this should be consistent with a regular exercise structure.
Treatment in mild cases is simple. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you change the way you do things, especially if you work in an office and do a lot of typing. This can include, typing less or changing the position of your hands when you type. The truth is, if you’re typing correctly, you shouldn’t suffer from this problem. However , many people thrust into an office situation aren’t properly trained.
Here are some common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome presented in a table format:
|Rest||Taking a break from activities that cause or worsen symptoms|
|Bracing or splinting||Wearing a brace or splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position and alleviate pressure on the median nerve|
|Physical therapy||Exercises and stretches to improve range of motion and reduce symptoms|
|Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)||Medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and inflammation|
|Steroid injections||Injections of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and relieve pain|
|Surgery||Carpal tunnel release surgery to cut the ligament that is pressing on the median nerve|
|Alternative therapies||Techniques such as acupuncture or yoga to help reduce symptoms and improve overall health|
It’s important to note that the treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms and the individual’s circumstances. If you suspect that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.