Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve is compressed. The median nerve is located in the carpal tunnel. The median nerve provides motor and sensory functions to the 3 middle fingers and the thumb. The nerve, when compressed, produces numbness and pain which result in hand weakness that is known as carpal tunnel syndrome
In some cases, no direct cause of the syndrome can be identified. Most likely, the disorder is due to a congenital predisposition when the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some people than in others. However, the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is especially common in those performing repetitive tasks on assembly lines.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Mostly, this syndrome has no specific cause, but it does have many of the factors which contribute to this syndrome:
- Sports and physical activities where there is frequent movement of hands
- Typing and using a keyboard for long periods of time
- Osteoarthritis, arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Metabolic and hormonal changes
- Blood sugar level alterations
- Family history of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Other injuries of the wrist include swelling, dislocation, sprains, and strains, etc.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Symptoms usually start gradually with pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, which radiates up the arm. As symptoms worsen, people might feel tingling during the day, and decreased grip strength that makes it difficult for a person to make a fist, grasp small objects, or even perform basic manual tasks.
- Tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand, only on 4 of your fingers except for your little finger.
- Many people “shake out” their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. As the disorder progresses, the numb feeling may become constant.
- Pain radiating or extending from the wrist that moves up to the arms and shoulder or shoots back down to your palm or fingers after forceful or repetitive use.
- A sense of weakness in your hands and a tendency to lose your grip and to drop objects.
During the diagnosis, the health care provider will ask these question from you for the best treatment:
- Your age
- The severity of pain in your wrist
- Your medical and health history
- Your toleration for certain kind of medications, therapies, and procedures
- Your opinion or preference
- How bad the disease might get
Confirming whether a patient has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually requires performing specific tests of nerve function such as:
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS)
- Electromyography (EMG)
These tests are procedures that evaluate how well the nerves of the wrist carry electrical signals. This information can help determine the extent of nerve damage (if any) and how best to treat the condition.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Fortunately, for most people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, proper treatment usually will relieve the pain and numbness. The result is the restoration of the normal use of their wrists and hands. If the condition is left untreated, severe nerve and muscle damage can occur. Symptoms can often be relieved without surgery. Here are some common treatments to relieve the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Change of hand use patterns
- Keeping the wrist on a splint
- Use of anti-inflammatory medication
- Physical therapy
- Treatment according to injuries
In the case of Surgery
When symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be needed to make more room for the nerve in the wrist. Pressure on the nerve is decreased by cutting the ligament that forms the “roof” of the carpal tunnel on the palm side of the hand. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly. The symptoms may not go away completely after surgery, especially in severe cases.