Many people suffer from the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome without realizing that they have this condition. Often mistaken for a cramp in the hand or wrist, it is a progressive condition that can limit activity. Understanding the causes of this condition and what can be done to prevent it can help reduce the number of new cases. For those currently in pain, treatment methods will provide relief.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This condition is attributed to congenital predisposition and caused when the median nerve running from the forearm to the palm is squeezed or pressed at the wrist area. This nerve controls the sensation on the palm side of the hand, affecting all but the little fingers. It also sends impulses to some of the smaller muscles in hands that enable movement of the thumbs and other fingers.
The mediterranean nerve and the tendons are contained in the carpal tunnel, which is a thin passageway of bones and ligaments at the base of each hand. If irritated tendons increase in thickness or another type of swapping occurs, this narrows the rigid tunnel, compressing the median nerve in the process. This can create numbness, weakness, or pain in the affected wrist or hand. These sensations may radiate all the way up the arm.
Symptoms and Prevention Methods
Symptoms are typically gradual and include frequent itching, tingling, burning, or numbness in the palm or fingers, particularly the middle and index fingers and thumb. Fingers may feel swollen even though they do not appear to be. Many sufferers complain of symptoms at night because wrists are flexed during sleeping. As symptoms progress, they may be experienced during the day, making it difficult to perform manual tasks such as grasping small objects or creating a fist.
This condition should be taken seriously because it can destroy the sensation of temperature through touch and waste away muscles in the base of the thumb. Work stress and regular use of vibrating hand tools can be contributing factors so prevention including taking frequent breaks, performing stretching exercises, and wearing a splint that keeps wrists straight. Redesigning tools to keep the wrist in a natural position and rotating jobs may also help.
Carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated in its earliest stage. Non-surgical treatments include chiropractic joint manipulation of the wrist and hand combined with recommended strengthening and stretching exercises. Although the effectiveness of this and other alternative therapies is still being researched, many patients experience a noticeable reduction in pain.