A Closer Look at Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Numbness and tingling of the thumb, index finger and middle finger, aggravating feeling of just like being pricked by pins and needles from the wrist to the hand is caused by the irritation of the median nerve which may be first noticed at night are symptoms of a condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

carpal tunnel syndrome
Photo credits: medicinenet.com

Causes

Obesity, diabetes, arthritis, pregnancy, hypothyroidism are some of the most common conditions that can lead to CTS.

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually happens to people who use their hands over and over in the same way, or when hands are used in repetitive chores which is most likely work related, making your tendons swell (swollen tenosynovium). It could happen to a woman who arranges apples in boxes the whole day, someone who lays bricks while making a house, a musician who plays a musical instrument or someone who works in the computer –  uninterrupted typing for long hours.  Sleeping on just one side the whole night could also be a factor to have a swollen tenosynovium.

What makes it so difficult for people who have carpal tunnel syndrome is that they lose their grip—they find it hard to hold a newspaper, to type in the computer, to play musical instruments or even a simple task as holding a cup of coffee.

Diagnosis 

A physical examination like nerve testing to find out if the meridian nerve is functioning well, that is to check and assess the feeling, appearance and strength starting to the hands, going to the wrist, arms, shoulders up to the neck.

Blood tests are performed to see if any medical condition might be causing the symptoms.

Treatment

Home care is advised for mild symptoms:

  • Resting the wrist longer between chores or activities, it is recommended to stop activities that cause numbness and pain as it will only cause repetitive stress injuries and might worsen the condition.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and gel/creams may be given to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
  • To take the pressure off from the meridian nerve it is advised to wear a wrist splint at night to prevent flexion and to keep your wrist in a neutral position.
  • Aside from the wrist splint, doctors also advise wearing gloves which combine heat therapy and light compression.
  • Ice the wrists for 10-15, do it for several times a day or as needed.
Photo credits: en.wikipedia.org

Other treatment options

  • Corticosteroid injections can be quick and effective for temporary relief, but this treatment is only appropriate for short term periods until other options can be identified.
  • For worst conditions, surgery is the last option. The transverse carpal ligament is cut through open carpal tunnel surgery.  The procedure will release pressure on the median nerve and relieves the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If symptoms persist, consult the doctor for the treatment that is best for your case.

References: medicinenet.com, webmd.com

 


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