Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common syndrome involving your hands. Check out its symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment. Read on.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common problems involving your hand. People who suffer from this syndrome might experience symptoms such as pain, numbness and weakness in the hand and wrist. One can make certain lifestyle moderations such as wrist splints and changes in your hand movement and usage to treat this condition. Surgery is also another treatment option for carpal tunnel. Basically, the carpal tunnel is a narrow tube in the wrist which helps in connecting the median nerve and tendons from the hand to forearm. The parts of this tunnel include carpal bones that are responsible for the basic structuring like bottom and sides of the tunnel and are formed in a semi-circle. Talking about the ligament, it is at the top of the tunnel and is a strong tissue that holds the tunnel together.
Carpal tunnel syndrome was first found out in the middle 1800s. The first surgery to treat carpal tunnel was done in the 1930s. Orthopaedic surgeons have been diagnosing and treating this health condition since more than 40 years now. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also called median nerve compression and you should visit the doctor if there is a feeling of numbness, tingling and weakness in your hand. The median nerve controls the movement and feeling of your thumb and the movement of all your fingers, except the little one. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Manu Bora, Consultant Orthopaedics, Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram, about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common health condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist. This happens because of the excess pressure on your wrist on a nerve called the median nerve. This nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the thumb, index, and middle fingers. The small finger does not get affected due to this symdrome. According to Dr. Manu, here are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Trouble in holding anything
- Weakness in hand
- Difficulty in hand movement
- Tingling sensation
- Shock like sensation
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in most cases begin gradually or without any kind of specific injury. Most patients experience that the symptoms are a very rare occurrence at first. However, as the condition gets more and more worse the symptoms start to appear more frequently and may also take place for longer periods of time. Symptoms occurring at night time are very common. This is caused because many people sleep with their wrists bend, this can cause you to wake up from your sleep. However, during the day symptoms often occur when you are holding something for a long period of time with your wrist bend backward or forward. This commonly take place while you are reading a book or while using a phone or even while driving. To relieve their symptoms patients often find that moving or shaking their hands helps them overcome these symptoms.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Most of the cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by a mixture of many factors together. Some studies have proved that women and older people are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Moreover, people might not even know the reason behind their carpal tunnel syndrome sometimes. As per Dr. Manu, here are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome:
Heredity factors is a common cause behind many health conditions including carpal tunnel as well. The carpal tunnel might be smaller in some people, as the characteristics vary from patient to patient. Family history is a reason because the amount of space for the nerve is a trait that runs in families.
Another cause for carpal tunnel syndrome is pregnancy. Women go through many hormonal changes during pregnancy which can cause swelling in the hands and feet. Therefore, pregnancy is also a trigger for carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Repetitive hand motion
Repetitive motions, like typing, or any other basic wrist movements that you do again and again can also be a cause for carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeating the same hand and wrist motions for a long period of time can trigger the tendons in the wrist, leading to swelling that puts extra pressure on the nerve.
4. Certain health conditions
Certain health condition can also be a risk factor behind carpal tunnel syndrome. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and thyroid gland imbalance are such problems that are often interlinked with this syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis
Carpal tunnel syndrome also requires a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, like most of the medical conditions. Firstly, your doctor might dab on the palm and side of your wrist to know about the movement. This test is called tinel sign, in which you have to completely flex your wrist with extended arms. The doctor might also conduct other tests including imaging tests. These are mainly X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI exams. All these imaging tests help in looking at your bones and tissues using an electromyogram. It requires putting a thin electrode into a muscle to check the electrical activity. Nerve conduction studies are also done by your doctor to tape electrodes to your skin to measure the signals in the nerves of your hand and arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment
However it is considered to be a continuous process, for most patients carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse with time if not cared for or looked after. This reason puts light on the problem that it is important to be assessed and determined by your doctor in earlier stages. In early stages it is possible to reduce the speed or completely stop the progression of the disease. If identified and treated in early stages, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can often be relieved without any need of surgery. If the diagnosis is not confirm or if you don't experience major symptoms, your doctor will tell you to go for nonsurgical treatment at first. If that does not relieve you of the symptoms over a period of time then only the doctor might recommend surgery.
It is advised that the decision of surgery should be taken after depending on the seriousness of the symptoms, how much numbness or pain it is causing you in your hand. In long term cases with prolonged numbness and wasting of your thumb, muscles surgery maybe advised to stop or prevent irreparable damage. There might be some after effects of the surgery like numbness, pain and weakness but you will recover within a few days. One can also try some hand exercises at home, but with the help of your doctor or a physiotherapist. The movement can help in pain relief and coping up from weakness.
So, these were the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome by Dr. Manu Bora. If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, then you should surely visit the doctor for further diagnosis and medical treatment. Many people might get carpal tunnel syndrome even if they have never done office work or any other hand oriented tasks. But, is definitely mostly affects people who use their wrists and hands repeatedly at work. Anyone can get this syndrome, but the most rare age is 20 years old. However, the risk of carpal tunnel might also increase along with your age.
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