If you look at the cross-section of the human wrist, you will see a fibrous tissue band that supports the joint between the forearm and the hand. If you look closer, you will see a small space between the wrist bone and the tissue band. This is the carpal tunnel. When there is a tunnel, you should know that something passes through it. For the carpal tunnel it is an important nerve that goes through, i.e. the “median nerve”. The median nerve is connected to the thumb as well as the other fingers. Aggravation of the median nerve is what causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
What can cause this aggravation?
The usual causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:
- Repetitive movements or actions causing inflammation of the tendon.
- Obesity, trauma, arthritis, pregnancy, as well as conditions that provide unnecessary pressure or irritation to the median nerve.
- Rarely, it can also be caused by leukemia and amyloidosis.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Several symptoms or early signs may occur prior to developing a full blown or extreme Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Tingling sensation or numbness in the first four fingers starting from the thumb.
- Tingling and numbness may be felt while sleeping, particularly for people who often flex their wrists when sleeping as well as for those people who are experiencing water retention in the wrist area.
CTS may be short-term and could possibly be resolved by itself, but it can also become a chronic problem. For extreme cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Burning feeling in the hand
- Hand weakness
- Pain radiation through the forearm
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome diagnosis includes the exclusion of other ailments with the same signs and symptoms, e.g. problems with the shoulder, neck, reflexes, and elbow. An electromyogram may be performed on the arm muscles. Another test that can be performed is the Nerve Conduction Velocity Test. This test will determine if electrical impulses are transitioning at a normal rate through the median nerve. Your doctor may also try to reproduce the signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by means of bending your wrist forward. Wrist x-rays may also be required to check if you are having abnormalities in your wrist bones.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are many treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Of course, there are natural means and there are also methods involving therapy, exercise, medications, and surgery. Your treatment option will entirely depend on how severe your CTS problem is as well as what the primary causes are. The initial treatment given to patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is normally a sustained resting of the wrist. Splints may also be used to ensure that your wrist will be immovable for the time being. Ice may also be applied if swelling exists. If the underlying cause is due to repetitive movements, the recommendation will be to look for change of activities or ergonomic devices to support and ease the repetitive activities.
Knowing what you can be done to avoid the carpal tunnel symptom is the best treatment. Prevention is always better than a pound of cure.