What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

By on May 11, 2020
Carpal Tunnel Symdrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a fairly common disorder that occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is pinched or compressed. The name itself comes from the ‘tunnel’ or passageway, called the Carpal Tunnel. The tunnel is created by bones and ligaments that surround the nerves in this area of the wrist.

Since the Carpal Tunnel is quite a small space, inflammation, swelling, or injury can easily create pain. The tissue and everything within this tunnel can become compressed. This is when someone might begin to experience symptomatic pain in their hands and wrist.

While the symptoms can begin as an uncomfortable numbness, overtime it may progress to more serious issues that result in loss of movement or range of motion in the thumb and first to third digits of the hand. If left untreated, the compressed nerve can affect the quality of the muscles in the hand.

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What are the risk factors of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

You may associate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with tasks like typing but the reality is that many repetitive motions or other medical conditions can contribute to this painful condition. If you’re suffering from Carpal Tunnel you may have experienced the feeling of pins and needles in different parts of your hand, fingers, and wrist. You may be surprised to find out there are various risk factors for Carpal Tunnel. These can include genetic predisposition, wrist injury, overuse and repetitive motions associated with work, and rheumatoid arthritis among others. Given how often we use our hands for everyday activities, finding relief from this condition is critical to improving quality of life.

How to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

We all want to avoid pain as much as possible. The first step is to acknowledge that the pain is real and has been continuous. Anyone who experiences pain over a long period of time – for three months or longer – is considered to have chronic pain. Waiting for chronic pain to subside is just needless suffering. Anyone with pain that won’t go away should see a doctor near you. You may also consider speaking to a doctor via Tele-consultation.

First, confirm the diagnosis

The first step in treating Carpal Tunnel is to make sure the correct diagnosis is made. Your doctor will ask about the type of pain you are experiencing and also take a look. While the symptoms might definitively point to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome it might also be appropriate to do blood tests to determine if there is another underlying condition. Underlying conditions contributing to your Carpal Tunnel symptoms include diabetes, thyroid disease, or arthritis. Sometimes an x-ray or ultrasound may be used to determine if there is further evidence of injury that must be addressed.

The management of this disorder is very much dependent on the cause. Possible treatments may include rest, physical therapy, behavior modification to avoid repetitive injury, wrist splints, anti-inflammatory medications, Vitamin B6, steroid injection, or surgery. Thankfully, the treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is generally very effective.

Splint

A splint holds your wrist still while you sleep. The splint can help relieve nighttime symptoms of tingling and numbness. Even though you only wear the splint at night, it can also help prevent daytime symptoms. Splinting may be a good option if you’re pregnant. It does not involve the use of any medications to be effective.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), may help relieve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome in the short term. They will reduce inflammation and pain in the short term. There isn’t evidence, however, that these drugs will actually improve carpal tunnel syndrome with a complete reduction in long term pain.

Behavior modification

Any drug will create short term relief from the pain which can give you a reprieve. If your diagnosis is for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the major cause is overuse and incorrect use. Therefore the best solution is to adjust your habits and movements for true long term relief.

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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?