What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that affects the hand and arm and leads to numbness, swelling, tingling and loss of strength in both the arms and wrist. The term Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes from the fact that the wrist is made up of small bones which form a narrow groove that is referred to as a Tunnel Syndrome. The symptoms mentioned above arise when there is pressure exerted on the median nerve that passes through this tunnel and controls the sensations and feeling in the arm and wrist among other areas.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has become so common in the US. It is mostly experienced in the dominant hand but there have been reporting of where the condition affects both hands. The unfortunate bit of this condition is the cost associated with it. First is the cost lost from not being able to work and secondly the cost of medication. Estimates by the Department of Labor for the US estimate yearly losses that arise from absence of work due to Carpanal Tunnel Syndrome at $2 billion dollars in the year 2003. About 3.7 percent of the US population is said to suffer from this syndrome.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome do not come all of a sudden; they are gradual.
- They could start with tingling, and numbness in the thumb, index and middle finger that comes and goes. It could be more often at night as compared to their occurrence during the day. As it gets worse, the symptoms could now be felt during the day with pain moving from the wrist to the arms and fingers with more pain on the palm side.
- Weakness of hands; this could keep on getting worse with time. One may find it difficult to hold anything in the hand or make a fist. The fingers feel like they are swollen even if they are not.
- If left untreated, it could lead to a permanent feeling of numbness and weakness in particular areas of the body. The numbness could affect the ability to feel the hotness and coldness of a body.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Research done on this particular syndrome indicates that the syndrome is thrice likely to occur in women as compared to men. This could be because women’s wrists are generally smaller. This would infer that the Carpal Tunnel through which the median nerve passes is much smaller. This small space could easily lead to more pressure on the nerve as compared to the wrists of men. The high hormonal changes during menopause are also said to contribute to this syndrome.
There are cases when the cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is unknown, here are some of the known causes;
- Genetics: there are people who because of their genetics, their wrists are smaller and hence easy to have the nerve under pressure.
- Movements That Are Repetitive: There are certain types of work that call for repetitive actions. They include; playing the violin, typing, doing carpenter work, working on the assembly lines and sports among others.
- Trauma: Injury or trauma on the wrist could easily to swelling and pressure on the nerve and lead to the symptoms of the syndrome.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, there are many hormonal changes that may lead to the Carpal Tunnel syndrome. In most pregnant women, this condition goes away after birth.
- Menopause: Hormonal changes during menopause easily cause the Carpal Tunnel syndrome. These hormones could also alter the size of the tunnel of wrist and still cause the syndrome.
- Breast cancer
- Medical conditions
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Given that this condition involves a nerve, it is best treated or worked on by an expert. Any slight mistake that could tough on the nerve could leave you permanently affected.
Here are a few ways to treat the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome;
- Wrist Splint: A wrist splint is worn to ensure a neutral position for the wrist so that there is not pressure on the nerve. For those who have the symptoms at night, wearing the splint at night could do.
- Rest: Taking time to rest will enable you or doing less of repetitive work would come in handy to relieve one of the symptoms.
- Medication: The use of painkillers and other prescribed medication would come in handy to relieve the situation.
- Physical Therapy: When done by a professional, physical therapy is bound to bring great relief.
- Surgery: It is the last resort, though one of the commonly done surgeries in the US.
How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Lifestyle changes could easily help out with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here are a few tips to reduce the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome;
- Vary your tasks
- Take frequent breaks
- Do regular exercises
- Relax your grip on objects
- Stay warm
This syndrome is painful and uncomfortable but could easily be handled with lifestyle changes. Take time to review your progress as you implement the changes. If the symptoms persist please visit with a doctor to avoid any further complications.