What You Should Know about the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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What You Should Know about the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a medical condition that comes aboutwhen the median nerve becomes squeezed or pressed at the wrist. The median nerve runs from the forearm to the palm of your hand.

CTS is one of the most widely known and common entrapment neuropathies where the peripheral nerves of the body are pressed.

Symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually begin gradually with frequent tingling, burning, numbness or itching in your fingers or the palms of your hands. The fingers may feel swollen and useless with little or even no noticeable swelling. Symptoms normally appear during the night because most people usually sleep with their wrists flexed.

The patient may wake up feeling like shaking out their wrist or hand. Some people are not able to distinguish between hot and cold by touch. Some may have difficulty forming a fist or grasping small objects because of diminished grip strength.

Causes

The CTS syndrome may be caused by a wide range of factors that affect the median nerve. It can be caused by injury or trauma to the wrist resulting in swelling, for example, a fracture or sprain, rheumatoid arthritis, underactive thyroid gland and an overactive pituitary gland.

CTS syndrome can also result from mechanical problems in your wrist joint, work stress, continuous use of vibrating hand tools, development of tumor or cyst and fluid retention during menopause or pregnancy.

Risk Factors

Carpal tunnel syndrome only occurs in adults. Women are usually three times more likely to develop CTS compared to men. This is because the carpal tunnel tends to be smaller in women when compared to men. The most affected hand is usually the dominant hand and it produces the most pain. Individuals suffering from diabetes or other metabolic problems that affect the nerves are at high risk of developing CTS.

This condition tends to be prevalent in people who work in assembly lines like sewing, cleaning, manufacturing, finishing, and fish, meat and poultry packing. This condition is more common among assemblers than in data entry personnel.

Diagnosis

During the diagnosis process, your doctor will inquire about any health problems that you have, for example, diabetes, hypothyroidism or arthritis or if you are pregnant. Your physician will also ask you if you have hurt your neck, wrist or arm recently.

You must inform your doctor about your daily routine and other activities that may have injured your wrist. You may also undergo tests like nerve or blood tests, ultrasound imaging and electrodiagnostic tests.

Treatment

Mild symptoms of CTS are usually treated using home care services. You should stop activities that trigger pain or numbness. You should also rest your wrist, especially between activities. You can also put your wrist in ice for 15 minutes at least twice every hour. You can relieve pain by taking NSAIDs and use a wrist splint to reduce pressure on the meridian nerve. Surgery is also an option, especially for severe cases of CTS.

Research on carpal tunnel syndrome is ongoing. This is because scientists and clinicians are trying to find the cause and cure for this condition. With early diagnosis and effective treatment, you will be able to manage this disease. Your physician will pick the right treatment regimen that suits your needs.

Editorial Team
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