June 06, 2024

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects the hand and arm, causing pain, numbness, and tingling. This condition occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand, houses the median nerve and tendons. Swelling can compress the median nerve, leading to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The symptoms of CTS usually start gradually and can include:

  • Tingling or Numbness: Often occurs in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. This sensation might travel from the wrist up the arm. Symptoms can occur at any time but often are noticeable at night.
  • Weakness: You may drop objects due to weakness in your thumb's pinching muscles, which are also controlled by the median nerve.
  • Pain: In severe cases, pain and cramping may extend up the forearm.

Causes and Risk Factors:

The precise cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is usually due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the common causes and risk factors include:

  • Repetitive Hand Use: Activities involving repetitive hand and wrist motions can aggravate the tendons in the wrist, causing swelling that places pressure on the median nerve.
  • Anatomy: The size and shape of your carpal tunnel can affect your risk. Individuals with smaller carpal tunnels may be more susceptible.
  • Health Conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance can increase the risk of nerve damage.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome involves a combination of patient history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Doctors may use:

  • Tinel's Sign: Tapping over the median nerve at the wrist to see if it produces tingling in the fingers.
  • Phalen's Maneuver: Flexing the wrist gently as far as possible to see if it causes symptoms.
  • Electromyography (EMG): Measures the electrical activity of muscles to identify nerve damage.

Treatment Options:

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome should be individualized based on the severity of symptoms and the underlying cause. Options include:

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Wrist Splinting: Wearing a splint at night to keep the wrist in a neutral position. One of our highly recommended products is the  Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace.This wrist brace provides superior support to keep your wrist joints and forearms comfortable. Adjustable for both nighttime and daytime wear. This brace helps reduce wrist pain from carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist tendonitis, making it an excellent choice for those suffering from wrist pain.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): To relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation and swelling, relieving pressure on the median nerve.
  • Activity Changes: Modifying activities that aggravate symptoms and taking frequent breaks to rest the hands and wrists.


Surgical Treatments

When symptoms are severe or do not respond to non-surgical treatments, surgery might be necessary. The goal of surgery is to relieve pressure on the median nerve by cutting the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. This procedure is calledcarpal tunnel release and can be done using traditional open surgery or endoscopic techniques.

Prevention

Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome involves addressing the risk factors and modifying activities to reduce stress on the hands and wrists. Recommendations include:

  • Ergonomic Workstations: Ensuring that your workstation is ergonomically designed to promote good posture and reduce wrist strain.
  • Hand and Wrist Exercises: Regular exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the wrist.
  • Frequent Breaks: Taking regular breaks during repetitive tasks to rest your hands and wrists.
  • Proper Technique: Using proper hand and wrist positions during activities to minimize stress on the carpal tunnel.

Conclusion

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact daily life. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options is crucial for managing this condition effectively. Utilizing products like our  Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace can provide significant relief and support, helping to manage symptoms and promote recovery. If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, consult with a healthcare professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.


References

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Retrieved from orthoinfo.aaos.org
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. Retrieved from ninds.nih.gov
  • Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org

By staying informed and proactive, individuals can mitigate the risks and manage the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome effectively.


Subscribe

---