The 411 on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Are you experiencing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in your hand or arm and compression running through your wrist? You may have carpal tunnel syndrome. Today, we share with you what carpal tunnel syndrome is, what causes it, and how to treat it.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure on the wrist’s median nerve, which is responsible for providing sensory and motor functions to the arm, hand, and fingers. Swelling in the “carpal tunnel”- the space in the wrist where the median nerve and nine flexor tendons pass from the forearm into the hand – puts pressure on the median nerve. As the pressure rises, nerve function deteriorates, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the affected hand and fingers.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • An electric shock-like sensation, numbness, and tingling in the fingers and hand.
  • Pain, burning, or tingling sensation that goes up to the arm.
  • Weakness, infrequent clumsiness, and a tendency to drop things due to a feeble grip.
  • In extreme cases, the sensation may be permanently lost. It can even lead to thenar atrophy, when the muscles at the base of the thumb gradually shrink. It can sometimes make the action of pinching difficult.
  • You may experience these symptoms at night when your fingers become numb while you sleep. During the day, you may experience numbness and tingling in your hands that extends all the way to your shoulder.
  • You may also experience these symptoms during daily activities like driving, texting, reading, and typing.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by too much pressure on your wrist or median nerve, often caused by:

  • Repetitive actions such as typing or playing the piano.
  • Computer work that puts pressure on wrists, like using keyboards or a mouse
  • Hand or power tools that expose your wrist to continuous vibration
  • Underlying inflammatory diseases such as thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
  • Joint dislocations and fractures
  • Fluid retention during pregnancy and swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons (tenosynovitis)

People at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Women are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men, possibly because women’s carpal tunnel areas are relatively smaller. It is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
  • Some chronic illnesses like diabetes can be the source or increase the chance of nerve damage, including the median nerve.
  • A wrist fracture or dislocation can deform the wrist’s small bones, transforming the space within the carpal tunnel and putting more pressure on the median nerve.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions can cause the lining around the tendons to become inflamed, putting pressure on the median nerve.
  • Careers that keep your wrist, hand, or arms in the same position, like a typist, cashier, assembly line worker, baker, hair stylist, or pianist.
  • People with conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, thyroid disorder, kidney failure, or lymphedema are also more at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treatment is planned after identifying the severity of the condition.

  • If a person’s job is causing strain on their wrist, modifying their work and taking breaks more often may help relieve the pain.
  • Stretching or strengthening exercises can help relieve the stress or pressure on the nerve by making it move better in the carpal tunnel.
  • Wearing a wrist splint and keeping the wrist in a straight position may help reduce pressure on the nerve. It also helps relieve the symptoms at night that interfere with sleep.
  • Consider a magnetic bracelet. They come in all sorts of styles for men and women. Worn during sleep or 24-7, the Carpal Tunnel bracelet gently stretches and reshapes the connective tissue. Shop here.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relieving medicines can reduce swelling and the pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. A steroid injection or shot into the carpal tunnel area may also help reduce swelling around the nerve.
  • If no other treatment works, surgery may be needed to create more space for the nerve within the carpal tunnel. The outcome is usually favorable, but in severe cases, symptoms may persist following surgery. Age, duration of symptoms, and diabetes may determine the treatment outcome.

When to See a Doctor

If you start experiencing numbness, pain, or tingling sensations in the hand, wrist, or arm, consult a doctor immediately. The sooner the problem is treated, the more favorable the outcome.

Have you suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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