Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most frequently diagnosed nerve entrapment disorder reported. Exceedingly inconvenient and debilitating, the carpal tunnel syndrome typically includes pain and paresthesia (ie, tingling pins and needles sensation), numbness, tingling and reduced coordination of the thumb, index middle and sometimes one-half of the ring fingers. If left untreated, the carpal tunnel syndrome usually leads to wasting away from the thenar eminence muscles located at the base of the thumb in the hand.
Population studies conducted in Sweden indicate that the prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome is 2.7 percent. However, diagnostic procedures and scientific measurement approaches vary, making it difficult to ascertain exactly how many people really suffer from the disorder. It is estimated that 3% of people in the United States suffer from this debilitating condition, resulting in about nine million people currently suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome? The etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome is the subject of significant research, and it appears the nerve entrapment that characterizes carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by numerous occupations and stress factors such as tasks involving repetition, static-flexion (non-moving gripping actions), duration and force which all really have one element in common, overuse of specific muscles or groups of muscles. With the overuse of unidirectional (one-way) movement patterns being so common in today's work force of typing, mousing, meat cutting, assembly line work, it is easy to see that structural imbalances can easily occur in the hand, wrist and forearm that lead to entrapment of the median nerve and the resulting carpal tunnel condition.
Although the structural imbalance definition just described is seemingly common sense, there are also many other arguments of how carpal tunnel syndrome begins. Some suggest that heredity is a primary determinant of the condition, and some studies suggest that genetic loading determines as much as 50 percent of the risk for developing the disorder. Twin studies provide further evidence for heritability, demonstrating higher concordance of carpal tunnel syndrome among monozygotic versus dizygotic twins (ie, the more genes you share, the greater the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome). In addition to heredity, gender, size of wrist, pregnancy, menopause, diabetes, and renal failure have all been associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
As with many disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome may be affected by genes and./or gender, but reality would stress that occurrence is more likely based on physical demands of specific occupations, the reason that certain occupations have a higher incident rate of carpal tunnel syndrome than others. If carpal tunnel syndrome was based on heredity, gender or size of wrist, the rate of carpal tunnel syndrome would be more substantially generic, with most unisex occupations reporting the same rate of injury no matter what type of physical stress the task involved.
For fast, effective relief, spend a little time keeping your hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders physically fit and balanced. A good stretch and exercise program is the key to not only preventing carpal tunnel syndrome but also treating it. Effective conservative treatment involves creating muscle balance around susceptible joints in order to reduce compression of underlying nerves. The solution is plain, simple and effective.