What Is Carpal Tunnel
tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve as it passes into the
hand. The median nerve is located on the palm side of your hand (also called
the carpal tunnel). The median nerve provides sensation (ability to feel) to
your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger. It supplies
the impulse to the muscle going to the thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur
in one or both of your hands.
inside your wrist causes the compression in carpal tunnel syndrome. It can lead
to numbness, weakness, and tingling on the side of your hand near the thumb.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel
The pain in your
carpal tunnel is due to excess pressure in your wrist and on the median nerve. Inflammation
can cause swelling. The most common cause of this inflammation is an underlying
medical condition that causes swelling in the wrist, and sometimes obstructed
blood flow. Some of the most frequent conditions linked with carpal tunnel
retention from pregnancy or menopause
disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
or trauma to the wrist
tunnel syndrome can be made worse if the wrist is overextended repeatedly.
Repeated motions of your wrist contribute to swelling and compression of the
median nerve. Problems include:
positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse
exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools
repeated movement that overextends your wrist, such as playing the piano or
Who Is at Risk for Carpal
three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men. Carpal tunnel
syndrome is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. Certain
conditions increase your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, including
diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
factors that may increase the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include smoking,
high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and a high body mass index (BMI).
involve repetitive wrist movement include manufacturing, assembly line work,
keyboarding occupations, and construction work. People employed in these
occupations may be at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Are the Symptoms of
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
are usually found along the nerve path because of compression of the median
nerve. Your hand may “fall asleep” frequently and drop objects. Other symptoms
tingling, and pain in your thumb and first three fingers of your hand
and burning that travels up your arm
pain at night that interferes with sleep
in the muscles of the hand
How Is Carpal Tunnel
diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome using a combination of your history, a physical
examination, and tests called nerve conduction studies.
examination includes a detailed evaluation of your hand, wrist, shoulder, and
neck to check for any other causes of nerve pressure. Your doctor will look at
your wrists for signs of tenderness, swelling, and any deformities. He will
check sensation to the fingers and strength of the muscles in your hand.
studies are diagnostic tests that can measure the conduction speed of your
nerve impulses. If the nerve impulse is slower than normal as the nerve passes
into the hand, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Is Carpal Tunnel
carpal tunnel syndrome depends on how severe your pain and symptoms are and if
there is weakness. In 2008, the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons released
guidelines for the effective treatment of carpal tunnel. The recommendation was
to try to manage carpal tunnel pain without surgery, if possible.
positions that overextend your wrist
splints that hold your hand in a neutral position, especially at night
pain medication and medications to reduce inflammation
of any underlying conditions you may have, such as diabetes or arthritis
injections into your carpal tunnel area to reduce inflammation
be necessary if there’s severe damage to your median nerve. Surgery for carpal
tunnel syndrome involves cutting the band of tissue in the wrist that crosses
the median nerve so as to lessen the pressure on your nerve. Factors that
determine success or failure are age of the patient, duration of symptoms,
diabetes mellitus, and if there is weakness (which usually is a late sign). The
outcome is usually good.
How Can I Prevent Carpal
prevent carpal tunnel syndrome by making lifestyle changes that reduce your
risk factors for developing it.
conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis reduces your
risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
careful attention to hand posture and avoiding activities that overextend your
wrist are also important strategies to reduce symptoms. Exercises done in
physical therapy may also be helpful.
What Is the Long-Term
your carpal tunnel syndrome early with physical therapy and lifestyle changes
can lead to significant long-term improvement and eliminate symptoms.
tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage, disability, and loss of