Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
WHAT IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms in your hand and wrist. Understanding the anatomy of your hand and wrist can help explain Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - the symptoms and how to treat it.
Your wrist bones/carpal bones form an arch that make up the top of your carpal “tunnel”. The median nerve and several tendons run from your forearm to your hand through this narrow tunnel. This tunnel protects the median nerve and the tendons that allow your fingers to bend. Pressure on the median nerve, usually from swelling, can make the carpal tunnel smaller and can cause nerve compression/“pinch the nerve” in your wrist which in turn can lead to tingling, numbness and wrist pain.
The exact cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is not known, but risk factors include injuries, repetitive motions, such as typing on a computer keyboard or work activities such as assembly line work or using hand tools. Pregnancy and some health conditions can also cause swelling in the carpal tunnel. Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can cause swelling and compression of the median nerve.
For more information on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, check out our blogs - 5 Common Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and What Can I Do for My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
SYMPTOMS OF CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
You have pain, numbness or tingling in your thumb, first finger, middle finger and ring finger
You may feel "pins and needles" in your fingers, especially if you bend your wrist
Your fingers "fall asleep" especially at night when sleeping with the wrist bent
You need to shake your hand to restore feeling in your fingers
Your grip strength is weaker and you may have trouble holding onto small objects
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome includes non surgical treatments such as splinting, physical therapy exercises and steroid injections. Exercises to stretch and straighten the wrist, as well as wearing a splint to rest your wrist during the day and at night can reduce the symptoms of CTS. Wearing a wrist splint or brace holds your wrist in a neutral position to keep it from bending or clenching your fingers. This neutral position decreases the pressure on the median nerve and the swelling that may be filling the tunnel. You should wear a wrist brace for at least 4 to 8 weeks or until your symptoms are gone.
For more severe cases, carpal tunnel surgery may be needed. Carpal tunnel release surgery is an outpatient surgical procedure that can be very successful for long term and permanent relief of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If symptoms persist, its important to consult with your healthcare professional to avoid permanent nerve damage, which may compromise your hand strength and hand function.
SPLINTS AND BRACES THAT CAN HELP
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