Carpal tunnel syndrome is broadly classified as a painful medical condition of arms and wrists, caused by a squeezed nerve in the wrist. It afflicts women more commonly than men and is most prevalent during 30 to 60 years of age. Around five in hundred women and three in hundred men have been affected by the condition at some time in their life.
Symptoms and Effects
Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by a clumsiness of hand while gripping objects or a tingling sensation in thumb, fingers or palms. In some cases, the pain may extend to elbow or wrist of both hands. This may weaken the grip or cause weakness in hands.
Who is at risk?
The condition is more common in people who play musical instruments. Other common causes include driving, painting, writing or sports like squash or handball. Sometimes, excessive working hours or working before the computer terminal may also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Are the Causes?
When the median nerve in the wrist is compressed, it leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Excessive stress on median nerve can hinder nerve signals, and effect hand movements or sense of touch. Some common factors which increase chances of prevalence of the condition are a family history of the same, health conditions like diabetes or injuries to the wrist. The condition may also be initiated by activities which involve a tight grip, excess movement of the wrist or exposure to vibration, such as manual labor or working with chainsaws.
Course of Treatment
If a person feels that he is suffering from any symptoms of this condition, he should consult a physician. Assessment of the medical condition often involves an identification of workplace hazards and understanding the processes involved in everyday work. Intensity, duration and frequency of daily tasks are also important determinants that define the chances of occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Once a person is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, he should take some due precautions to make sure that the condition does not worsen.
Treatment mainly involves ways to alleviate discomfort by subduing the pressure on median nerve. If a person is less than 30 years of age, mild symptoms of the condition may improve within six months without the need for any medical treatment. Some common ways to treat minor pain and discomfort caused due to carpal tunnel syndrome include resting the hands and wrists frequently or using a hot and cold pack. One should try to avoid any activities that make the symptoms worse.
Specialized procedures for treatment are also prevalent and commonly used. These include wrist splints that keep the wrist straight and minimize pressure on compressed nerve. Topically applied medications and herbal oils are also known to be particularly effective.
Other commonly used techniques for discose include acupuncture, which relieves the symptoms. Carpal tunnel release surgery is also an option if symptoms are severe, and it involves cutting the carpal ligament to make more room for nerves and tendons in the carpal tunnel.