What is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel and carpal tunnel syndrome (otherwise know as CTS) is an injury or disease process caused by a pinched or impingement of the nerve (s) in the wrist, resulting in pain and numbness in the thumb, finger (s) and muscle weakness of the hand area.
The name “carpal tunnel” receives its name from the bones in the wrist, called carpals, which form a “tunnel” through which the nerves pass through. Pain, tingling and numbness as well as other hand and wrist problems is known as CTS.
What are the Signs of CTS?
Possible signs and symptoms:
o Pain and / or tingling in one or both hands or fingers, frequently worse during activity or at night
o Feeling of weakness in the fingers, difficulty to squeeze or hold things
o Sensation that fingers are swollen even though little or no swelling is showing
o Loss of strength in gripping or carrying items
o Pain shooting from the hand up the arm as far as the neck or shoulder
It is important, if you believe you are suffering from CTS, to consult a qualified physician and health professionals for treatment options. Not everyone who has carpal tunnel syndrome experiences the condition at the same level, and a treatment that is suitable for one person may not be necessary for another.
What are the causes of CTS pain?
The wrist area is filled with tendons (attaching muscle to bone) that control finger and thumb movement. Tasks requiring highly repetitive and stressful movements of the wrist can cause pinching of the nerve (s) resulting in swelling and inflammation around the tendons, producing CTSl.
Injuries to the neck can damage nerves to the hands and wrists (known as “Double Crush Syndrome”) which also can cause CTS. This is common in “whiplash” injuries such as auto accidents.
Because pathway of the nerves to the hands connect all the way up to neck, any pinching or impingement at the neck (the first “crush”) or along this pathway can actually effect recovery and healing. Such impingement of these nerves can make them more susceptible or vulnerable to carpal tunnel syndrome (the second “crush”).
The double crush phenomenon and is broadly referenced in the scientific and medical research as a consistent finding in patients with CTS and can explain why some patients do not recover with care.
Often times in a sudden injury a patients can suffer double crush syndrome to the neck area. If the patient suffering from double crush syndrome and is just treated for carpal tunnel syndrome only, often times the treatment is not only ineffective, but the symptoms can get worse.
Such advanced stages can become quite serious, involving a loss of sensation, muscle deterioration, and permanent loss of function. It is important for the patient to be check for this syndrome.
Other possible causes include late stage pregnancy, disease processes, or even poor posture. Poor posture problems in particular are often overlooked when patients seek treatment.
What is the Therapy for CTS?
Many doctors and health professionals have access to different types of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Treatments choices range from simple pain relief to long term active patient care. Possible methods of treatment can include rehabilitation, carpal tunnel wrist brace, traction, exercises, stretches, soft tissue massage, medication, injections, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture or other types of care. In advance cases surgery can become an option.
As with any other health condition, it is very important that you talk with your doctor or other qualified health professional about possible carpal tunnel treatment or any other alternative care that he or she can recommend.
Regardless of the treatment, it is important that the carpal tunnel sufferer maintain good communication with their doctor or health professionals on treatment progress. As the patient improves under care, outside care and activities also need to be reviewed and addressed.