Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – All You Need to Know
Have you had those days where you type the whole day in front of the computer trying to finish a report? Do you then come home feeling some pain in the wrist, extending to the fingers and sometimes up your arm? This condition that you may be experiencing is called carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a very common condition, and fortunately it is also very treatable. In this article, I would be discussing what are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome so that you can tell if you have it, and what you can do to either prevent it or resolve it.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a space inside your wrist which protects important structures such as the median nerve, blood vessels, and tendons as they travel from your arm into your hands through your wrist. These structures are protected by a ligament and your wrist bones as they form an enclosed space, called the carpal tunnel, for the structures to pass through unharmed. However, due to the enclosed nature of the carpal tunnel, pressure can build up due to swelling or continues pressure applied to the area. This build up in pressure causes pain and numbness in the wrist and hands and is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
- hand pain or aching
- pins and needles
- numbness esp at night of with wrist flexing
- weakness or cramping
- perceived swelling
What Causes It?
As said previously, when pressure inside the carpal tunnel increases, compression to the nerve causes pain and numbness. There are 2 mechanism that this happens.The first one is when the space in the tunnel decreases due to swelling, bone subluxation, or fractures. The second is when the contents of the tunnel enlarges.
Contributing factors include:
- any hormonal factors that can cause swelling such as pregnancy
- prolonged use of poorly fitted keyboard
- disc bulge higher up the nerve causing the nerve to lack fluids that brings nutrients
- gripping, repetitive movements, or microvibration
What to do?
It really depends on what causes your condition. The first thing you should do is get yourself diagnosed and see if what you have is really carpal tunnel syndrome. Unfortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is often misdiagnosed as its symptoms can be very similar to those that is caused by a bulging disc in your neck. Therefore, it is important to seek medical help immediately to get the correct diagnosis.
If your condition is caused by prolonged or repetitive activity, you will need to either back off from the aggravating activity, or reassess the ergonomics of your work area. If your condition is caused by swelling, then controlling that swelling becomes the best thing to do to control the pain. Massage can often be effective in helping you control swelling.
Physiotherapy helps a lot in managing carpal tunnel syndrome. A splint may be recommended to you to wear in order to ease the symptoms.
If you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome but are unsure, contact us for an assessment. We hope this has been useful to you. Please refer to our YouTube channel for useful exercises for various conditions.