Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the nerve in the wrist (median nerve) that supplies movement and feeling to most of the hand. When this nerve is compressed or pinched numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage is felt in the hand and fingers. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located on the palm side of your wrist. Sometimes, irritated tendons swell narrowing the tunnel causing the median nerve to be compressed. The result may be weakness, numbness, or pain in the hand and wrist, which can even radiate up the arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. Typing on a computer keyboard is probably the most common cause of carpal tunnel. But other repetitive actions are also thought to contribute to the condition: sewing, assembly line work, painting, writing, using vibrating hand tools, playing musical instruments and even driving.
The disorder can be due to a congenital predisposition – the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some people than in others. Trauma or injury to the wrist which cause swelling, such as sprain or fracture; rheumatoid arthritis; work stress; fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause; overactivity of the pituitary gland; hypothyroidism; or the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also associated with pregnancy and diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases no cause can be identified.
Symptoms can include numbness or tingling in the thumb and first two or three fingers of either hand, or palm of the hand, wrist pain, coordination problems in the hand, and weakness.
Using a splint during the night for several weeks will probably help. If your workplace is a contributing factor try wearing the splint during the day. Hot and cold compresses may also help. Try to evaluate and change conditions that are contributing to the situation: use ergonomic keyboards and mice. Take a break when you notice tingling in your hand or fingers.
If the condition persists, medication may be needed to manage the inflammation and resulting pain. Common medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Corticosteroid injections may relieve symptoms.
Carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure that cuts into the ligament that is pressing on the nerve. Surgery is successful most of the time, but it depends on how long the nerve compression has been occurring and its severity.
Alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic care benefit some patients. Practicing Yoga appears to reduce pain and improve grip strength among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you are experiencing symptoms that suggest carpal tunnel syndrome, call Dr. Bilal Shanti at 480-473-7246 (PAIN) to talk to him about managing the pain related to carpal tunnel syndrome.