Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the arm and hand. This condition causes numbness, tingling, and a variety of other symptoms. This condition is caused by repetitive movement causing inflammation in the carpal tunnel, which pinches nerves and causes discomfort.

While this disorder is typically caused by repetitive movement, it can also be caused by underlying conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or other disorders that cause inflammation.

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually starts with very mild symptoms and gradually gets worse. Usually the symptoms start in the thumb and index finger. Over time, it spreads to the middle finger and possibly the ring and little finger. Generally, the tingling sensation is accompanied by a discomfort in the area of the wrist and the hand. However, discomfort is not always present in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms include

  • Tingling
  • Discomfort
  • Weakness in affected area

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes

There are many instances of carpal tunnel syndrome in which the exact cause is unknown. In fact, the majority of the cases of people with CTS are of mysterious origin. However, there are also many instances where obesity, hypothyroidism, prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance), trauma, arthritis, and diabetes are found to be relevant related medical issues. People who are experiencing one of the aforementioned have a greater risk of having problems with the median nerve at the wrist. Genetics can also play a role to the extent that the causes may collectively be multifactorial. Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease is a currently incurable disorder of the peripheral nervous system which can result in pressure palsies such as that as seen in carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive procedures which may be the result of work are also thought by many to be a cause of CTS. However, there is still an ongoing debate in the medical community as to whether occupational tasks play a role in the degeneration.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated?

In order to prevent permanent damage to the carpal tunnel in your wrist, it is important to get treatment as early as possible. This will also reduce the amount of treatment necessary to get the disorder under control.

Treatment includes

People who suffer from mild carpal tunnel syndrome are recommended to take frequent breaks from activities that involve working the wrists and hands. It is also recommended for them to avoid doing things that make their symptoms worse.

Many people find relief by applying ice packs, or cold packs. This helps reduce the inflammation that causes symptoms.

Other treatments

Other treatments involve splinting the wrists, anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe situations surgery may be recommended. Keep in mind, surgery is typically only recommended for people who have suffered from symptoms for more than 10 months and who have moderate to severe symptoms.

Some patients do see improvement with the used of corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel. This is usually only helpful for patients whose condition is caused by rheumatoid arthritis, or other condition that is similar.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prevention

Because of the suggested evidence that carpal tunnel syndrome is in fact caused by repetitive motions it is recommended by many organizations (such as OSHA) and experts that people avoid such repetitive stress. The integration of ergonomic equipment and other more accommodating conditions may help to ease the cumulative pressure and stress which causes issues later in life. There is a myriad of such products on the market which includes everything from chairs to mousepads and more. Also, stretches and isometric exercises may help to loosen and strengthen the wrist so that it is more able to resist the injuries of repetitive stress. Genetic predisposition does seem to play a significant role in many cases, and that means that it may not be avoidable in some subsets of the population.