Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects millions of people each year resulting in significant pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the hands and arms. It’s caused by the compression of the median nerve, located on the palm side of the hand, which supplies the impulse to your thumb muscle and which also gives your thumb, index finger, middle finger and part of your ring finger the ability to feel. For many people, living with carpal tunnel syndrome can be a very challenging as it makes performing common task both difficult and painful. Here’s what you need to know about carpal tunnel syndrome:
- CAUSES: As mentioned above, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve. However, the cause of this compression does vary. In some cases, it’s the result of other existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction or autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. In others, it’s the result of a sprain or fracture, poor positioning or repeated movement that overextends the wrist or a continuous vibration such as using hand or power tools for a long periods of time.
- SYMPTOMS: Typical symptoms include wrist pain, a numbness or tingling in the hands, a weakness in the hands resulting in the frequent dropping of things or a pain or burning sensations moving up your arm. If you experience symptoms, especially ones that are frequent or that disturb your sleep, you should speak with a qualified health professional. He or she can perform a physical examination of your hand to determine whether or not what you’re experiencing is, in fact, carpal tunnel syndrome.
- PREVENTION: Lifestyle changes can be adopted to reduce your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pay careful attention to your hand posture when typing or performing other similar activities and avoid activities that overextend your wrist. Taking breaks frequently from such activities can also reduce your risk. In addition, you should seek treatment for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis which can increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- TREATMENT: The course of treatment required for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the condition. For more minor symptoms, some people may be able to find relief by resting their hands and arms, by taking more frequent breaks and by limiting activity that worsens symptoms. Adjusting your workspace to reduce pressure and overextension on your nerve can also lead to relief. Less severe cases can also be treated with cold packs to reduce swelling. If symptoms do not improve, wrist splinting may be an option. A splint will be used to hold your wrist in a neutral position. This can relieve pain and symptoms, especially at night. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also be used to alleviate pain. For more severe situations, corticosteroid injections by a doctor can be used to decrease inflammation and swelling. More serious symptoms or symptoms that persist despite other therapy may require surgery. Post-surgery, physiotherapy is typically required to ease pain, reduce inflammation and strengthen and stabilize the muscles in the wrist, hand and arm.
If you’ve been experiencing numbness, pain or tingling sensations in your arms or hands, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.