Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Today’s fast paced world has bought to the one condition to the common notice of most physicians. This condition affects the hands and wrist of many people, especially those who spend many hours typing on the computer or their phones. This condition is called as carpal tunnel syndrome. It occurs due to abnormal pressure placed on the nerve present in the wrist.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
A progressive painful condition affecting the wrist, hand and arm is called as carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition occurs due to a pinched nerve in the wrist, that is, in the carpal tunnel. This is a passageway that connects the forearm to the wrist to the middle part of the palm. There are nine long flexor tendons passing through the canal. Whenever either of the tendons are inflamed or begin to degenerate, it causes the canal to become narrow. Thus, trapping or pinching the median nerve, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. Early treatment will help in getting rid of the pain and restore full use of the wrist, fingers and hand.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are many symptoms that indicate carpal tunnel syndrome. Many patients complain of some or many of the following symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling or burning sensation in the index, middle and half of the ring fingers as well as the thumb
- Pain in wrists
- Pain in hands
- Loss of grip
- Problems with finger movement
- Weakness in hands
- Inability to grasp, hold or even count notes or change with the affected hand
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are many causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is common in people who tend to carry out repetitive motions of the wrist as well as hand. Some of these situations that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows:
- Typing on the keyboard for long hours
- Driving, especially bikes
- Musicians who play instruments such as guitars
- Sewing, especially during hand embroidery, knitting
- Playing sports like handball, badminton
- Writing for hours
- Scrubbing or wriggling
- Bakers who tend to knead dough a lot
- Painters, especially spray paint gun users
- Workers who tend to use vibrating hand tools
Other than occupational hazards, there are other conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and wrist fracture
- Cysts, tumors, growth developing in the tendons
- Genetic factors in some cases where some close family relative suffers or had suffered from the same condition
Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed based on patient history. The doctor checks for tenderness, weakness and pain in the wrist. The wrist may also be observed for swelling, misalignment, and range of motion of the joints. He may advise an X-ray to observe pinched nerve. Apart from an X-ray, the wrist is bent forward for a minute. If the patient shows signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pinch and grip strengths will be checked as well as motor function of the upper extremity is seen. Using this and a few other methods if required, carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed.
What is the Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a temporary condition in most cases. The patient is advised rest and given anti-inflammatory drugs. A wrist splint is advised to prevent the condition from aggravating due to excessive work. Ice compression may be advised. People using keyboard asked to take frequent breaks from typing. They may even be told to adjust the height of their computer keyboard and chair. Obese people are advised weight management treatments. Yoga, physiotherapy as well as vitamin B6 shots may be given. If the pain persists, surgery may be advised to help ease the pressure on the carpal tunnel.
Prognosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In most cases, the carpal tunnel syndrome is treatable with the traditional methods of treatment. However, a few cases may require surgery which is successful in the majority of the cases.
One should try and avoid repetitive movements and take breaks regularly to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. If one experiences numbness and tingling in fingers, thumb, wrists, especially at night, they should seek medical help. Make sure you take proper precautions at work to prevent any injury to your muscles, nerves and wrist.