What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the compression of the mean nerve as it enters the hand. The median nerve is located on the palm side of your hand (also called the carpal tunnel).
The mean nerve offers sensation (capability to feel) to your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger. It provides the impulse to the muscle going to the thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome can take place in one or both of your hands.
Swelling inside your wrist causes the compression in CTS. It can cause numbness, weakness, and tingling on the side of your hand near the thumb.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Pain?
The pain in your CTS is due to excess pressure in your wrist and on the mean nerve. Inflammation can cause swelling. The most typical cause of this inflammation is a hidden medical condition that causes swelling in the wrist, and in some cases blocked blood circulation. Some of the most frequent conditions linked with CTS are:
- thyroid dysfunction
- fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause
- autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
- fractures or trauma to the wrist.
CTS can be made worse if the wrist is over extended consistently. Repetitive movements of your wrist add to swelling and compression of the average nerve. Problems include:
- bad positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse
- extended exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools
- any repeated movement that over extends your wrist.
Who is at Risk for CTS?
Women are 3 times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men. CTS is most regularly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. Certain conditions increase your risk for establishing CTS, including diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis.
Lifestyle elements that might increase the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include smoking cigarettes, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and a high body mass index.
Jobs that involve recurring wrist motion include production, assembly line work, keyboarding professions, and building and construction work. Individuals used in these professions might be at greater risk of developing CTS.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Disease?
The symptoms are usually discovered along the nerve course because of compression of the typical nerve. Your hand might “drop off to sleep” regularly and drop things. Other symptoms include:
- numbness, tingling, and pain in your thumb and first 3 fingers of your hand
- pain and burning that takes a trip up your arm
- wrist pain at night that hinders sleep
- weakness in the muscles of the hand.
How is CTS Diagnosed?
Physicians can detect CTS using a combination of your history, a physical examination, and tests called nerve conduction research studies.
A health examination consists of a detailed examination of your hand, wrist, shoulder, and neck to check for other causes of nerve pressure. Your doctor will take a look at your wrists for signs of inflammation, swelling, and any defects. He will inspect sensation to the fingers and strength of the muscles in your hand.
Nerve conduction studies are diagnostic tests that can determine the conduction speed of your nerve impulses. If the nerve impulse is slower than normal as the nerve enters the hand, you might have CTS.
How is CTS Treated?
Treatment of CTS depends upon how severe your pain and symptoms are and if there is weakness. In 2008, the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons released standards for the reliable treatment of CTS. The recommendation was to try to handle CTS pain without surgery, if possible.
Nonsurgical alternatives include:
- avoiding positions that overextend your wrist
- wrist splints that hold your hand in a neutral position, particularly at night
- mild pain medication and medications to reduce inflammation
- treatment of any hidden conditions you might have, such as diabetes or arthritis
- steroid injections into your CTS area to reduce inflammation.
Surgery may be essential if there’s severe damage to your typical nerve. Surgery for CTS includes cutting the band of tissue in the wrist that crosses the mean nerve so regarding decrease the pressure on your nerve. Factors that figure out success or failure are age of the patient, period of symptoms, diabetes mellitus, and if there is weakness (which generally is a late sign). The result is typically good.
These actions might help you gain a minimum of temporary relief from your symptoms:
- Take fast breaks from repeated activities involving using your hands.
- Turn your wrists and extend your palms and fingers.
- Take a painkiller, such as aspirin, ibuprofen.
- Wear a wrist splint at night. Wrist splints are usually offered over-the-counter at many pharmacies or drug stores. The splint ought to be snug however not tight.
- Avoid sleeping on your hands to help reduce the pain or numbness in your wrists and hands.
If pain, numbness or weakness recurs and continues, see your doctor.
How Can I Prevent CTS?
There are no proven techniques to avoid CTS, however you can decrease stress on your hands and wrists by taking the following preventative measures:
- Reduce your force and unwind your grip. Many people use more force than had to perform numerous manual tasks. If your work involves a sales register, for example, struck the secrets softly. For extended handwriting, use a big pen with a large, soft grip adapter and free-flowing ink. In this manner you will not have to grip the pen securely or press as hard on the paper.
- Take frequent breaks. Give your hands and wrists a break by carefully extending and bending them periodically. Alternate jobs when possible. If you use equipment that vibrates or that needs you to put in a great quantity of force, taking breaks is a lot more important.
- View your kind. Prevent flexing your wrist all the method up or down. A relaxed middle position is best. If you use a keyboard, keep it at elbow height or slightly lower.
- Improve your position. Inaccurate posture can cause your shoulders to roll forward. When your shoulders are in this position, your neck and shoulder muscles are shortened, compressing nerves in your neck. This can impact your wrists, fingers and hands.
- Keep your hands warm. You’re most likely to establish hand pain and stiffness if you work in a cold environment. If you cannot control the temperature level at work, placed on fingerless gloves that keep your hands and wrists warm.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Treating your CTS early with physical therapy and lifestyle changes can result in significant long-term enhancement and eliminate symptoms.
Neglected CTS can lead to irreversible nerve damage, disability, and loss of hand function.