Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve in the wrist is pinched or damaged. This doesn’t just affect the wrist; the median nerve branches out into the thumb, first three fingers, and parts of the forearm, so all of these extremities can be affected by the condition. Women are twice as likely to suffer from this condition than men.
What Are The Symptoms?
Pain, numbness, and tingling usually occur on the palm and palmar side of the first three fingers from the thumb. Weakness can occur in the thumb and adjacent fingers. These symptoms depend on the position of the wrist, but usually occur at night and may radiate up the arm as far as the shoulder.
Other carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms can include:
- Decreased dexterity
- A weak grip
- Atrophy of muscles in the hand
- Feelings of hand swelling
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may vary in severity depending on the time of day. Some patients may only report pain symptoms when they use the affected hand.
What Are The Causes?
Repetitive motions of the wrist often cause carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s common for people who spend much of their time typing to develop it; however, people who suffer from conditions that cause an inflammatory response in the wrist may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions include diabetes, arthritis, pregnancy, high blood pressure, and more. If there is no underlying condition present and the patient doesn’t perform repetitive wrist movements, a physician may investigate the possibility of an old wrist injury as the cause.
What Are The Treatments?
Fortunately, mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with simple measures. Patients may wear a wrist splint when they sleep or use their wrist. This treatment is usually paired with medication that alleviates inflammation, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and ice. Some patients may experience relief after taking frequent breaks from the aggravating activity.
If the patient’s condition persists, a physician may recommend a steroid injection to send anti-inflammatory medication directly into the wrist. This treatment option may not be a permanent solution. Additional injections may be required for adequate pain relief. The final treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome is minimally invasive surgery to help release pressure from the compressed nerve by cutting a surrounding ligament.