Do you notice tingling or numbness, weakness in your hands? You might be having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the compression of the median nerve or carpal ligament as it passes into your hand.
This median nerve is present in the palm side of your hand or is carpal tunnel.
The median nerve has the ability to provide sensations or feelings to your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger.
Moreover, it supplies the impulse to the musle going to your thumb.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in either or both of your hands.
Swelling inside your wrist causes compression in carpal tunnel syndrome and can lead to numbness, weakness, and tingling sensations.
Keep on reading to learn more about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of this syndrome.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The pain in your palm or carpal tunnel is due to excess pressure on the wrist and on the median nerve of your hand.
Inflammation can lead to swelling and the most common cause of this is an underlying medical condition.
This underlying condition can cause swelling in the wrist, and sometimes even obstruct blood flow.
Moreover, some of the most frequent conditions that are linked with carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows:
Diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause, and high blood pressure.
Moreover, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, fractures, or trauma to the wrist can also lead to it.
This syndrome can worsen if the wrist is overextended repeatedly.
Repeated motion of your wrist can lead to swelling and compression of the median nerve.
This may be due to:
- positioning of your wrists while using keyboard or mouse,
- extensive or prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools,
- repeated movement that overextends your wrist like playing a piano or typing.
Who is at risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Women are 3 times more likely to have this syndrome than men.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more common in adults who age ranges from 30 to 60.
Moreover, certain medical conditions can increase your risk of developing it and include diabetes, blood pressure, and arthritis.
Certain lifestyle factors can also increase your chances of developing it.
These factors are smoking, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and high body mass index, BMI.
Certain occupations like manufacturing, assembly line work, keyboard occupations, or construction work can cause it.
Thus, if you are involved in any of the occupations then you are at a higher risk of developing this syndrome.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Other than compression of the median nerve, there are different symptoms that are usually found along the nerve path.
Your hand may ‘fall asleep’ frequently and drop objects in the long term.
Other symptoms are numbness, tingling, and pain in your thumb and the first 3 fingers of your hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, and burning sensations that travel up your arm, wrist pain at night, and weakness with repetitive motions in the muscles of your hand.
Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Most often doctors are able to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome using a combination of your history, a physical examination, and tests.
These tests are nerve conduction studies.
A physical examination includes a completed and detailed examination of your hand, wrist, shoulder, and your neck.
This helps to check for any other causes of nerve pressure.
Your doctor will also look at your wrist for signs of tenderness, swelling, and any deformities.
They will check the sensations to the fingers and the strength of your muscles in the hand.
Moreover, nerve conduction studies are diagnostic tests.
These tests can help measure the conduction speed of your nerve impulses.
However, if your nerve impulse is slower than normal, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of pain, symptoms, and whether there is any weakness or not.
According to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are certain guidelines you should follow.
These recommendations help to manage carpal tunnel pain without surgery if possible.
Non-surgical options are as follows:
- avoiding positions that overextend your wrist
- splints that hold your hand in neutral positions
- treatment of underlying conditions like diabetes or arthritis
- steroid injections in your palm to reduce inflammation
However, you may need surgery if there is severe damage to your median nerve.
Surgery for this condition involves cutting the band of tissue in the wrist that crosses the median nerve.
This helps to lessen the pressure on the nerve.
Factors that determine the success or failure of surgery depend on your age, duration of the symptoms, Diabetes Mellitus, and whether there is a weakness or not.
However, the surgery is usually a successful one.
If you experience mild CTS, you can ease your symptoms with certain lifestyle changes and medication.
The following are a few home remedies you can try to relieve pain:
1# Take break from Repetitive Tasks
Whether you are typing, playing piano, or using a hand tool try setting a timer for 15 minutes.
When it goes off, stop your work and wiggle your fingers.
Stretch your hands and move your wrist to improve blood flow.
2# Wear Splints
When you keep your wrists straight, it can help relieve pressure
Most often symptoms are common at night, thus wearing a splint in the evening can help relieve the symptoms.
3# Lighten Up
If you are forcing yourself to do certain tasks like writing, typing, or using a cash register, then try and relax your grip or reduce the force you are using.
Moreover, try using a soft-grip pen or tapping keys more lightly.
4# Mind your Flexion
It is important to avoid activities that make you flex to the extreme in either direction.
5# Stay Warm
Keeping your hand’s worm can help with the pain and stiffness.
Thus, consider wearing fingerless gloves or keeping your hands near warmers.
6# Stretch it Out
You can o quick exercises while standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in your office.
For this, make a fist and then slide your fingers until they are straight again.
This is at least 5 to 10 times as it can help relieve pressure on your wrist.
7# Elevate your Hands and Wrists
This one is particularly effective if CTS is due to pregnancy, fractures, or other issues of fluid retention.
Exercises of CTS
There are certain moves you can do any time of the day.
These stretches and exercises are helpful and do not require any equipment.
You can easily use these exercises at your desk, while waiting in line, or whenever you have a minute or two to spare.
With stretches you do throughout the day, you can address problems of your carpal tunnel.
You can effectively protect your wrist in just a few minutes with the following easy movements:
Spiders doing Pushups on a Mirror
Do you remember that nursery rhyme when you were a kid?
Turns out it is a great stretch for your hands.
You can do this by doing the following movements:
Start with your fingertips touching and pointing down toward the floor.
Spread your fingers apart, then steeple the fingers by separating your palms of hands but keeping your fingers together.
This exercise helps to stretch the palmar fascia, carpal tunnel structures, and median nerve.
As this is an easy exercise, you can easily do it in your office and no one will even notice you doing this.
This is a straightforward exercise as it sounds, snake your hands like you just washed them and are trying to air dry them.
You can do this for a minute or two every hour to keep your flexor muscles and its median nerve from getting cramped and tight during the day.
However, if you find it hard, you can integrate this exercise into your handwashing routine.
Most often, when you wash your hands, use this treatment as another reason to later up more often.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
This one is the deepest stretch of all the above exercises.
This exercise includes the following steps:
Extend your arm in front of you, palm up, bend your wrist back and point your hand toward the floor.
With your other hand, gently bend your wrist further until you feel a stretch in your arms and hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
It is important to note that stretching is an important part of any healthy routine.
You do not have to limit your routine to the exercises on the list.
Every part of your body can benefit from the increase in circulation, movement, and mobility that regular stretching can provide.
You can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by making certain lifestyle changes that reduce your risk factors for developing it.
Treating underlying medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis reduces your chances of developing this syndrome.
Paying attention to the posture of your hands and avoiding certain activities that overextend your wrists are also important strategies for reducing symptoms.
Moreover, physical therapy exercises are also helpful in treating this syndrome and relieving pain.
Get early treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome by making certain lifestyle changes that can reduce your risks of developing it.
Although, in rare cases, it can lead to permanent nerve damage, disability, and loss of hand function.