Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve located in the wrist is compressed that leads to feelings of numbness, muscle weakness and pain. The median nerve passes through a narrow passage way called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve is responsible for hand and finger movement as well as for its sensory perception. Undue pressure put into the nerve can lead to the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

The main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is long term pressure placed on the median nerve. The pressure can be brought about by several factors. The most common is the swelling or thickening of the lining and the lubricating layer in the carpal tunnel, taking up space that presses on the median nerve.

Bone spurs can also cause pressure to the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel. Prolonged use of the wrist tendons without any rest can also cause swelling and pressure to build up on the median nerve.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Initial signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include feeling slight aches in the wrist that later on spreads to the hand and the arm. Symptoms may also include numbness in the fingers, especially on the thumb index and middle fingers. The tingling sensation in the hand can usually be felt when holding an object and usually upon waking up.

Pain can also be felt especially from prolonged use of the hands that can radiate from the wrist down to the arms up to the shoulders. Advanced conditions include symptoms of muscle weakness or gradual loss of sensory perception in some fingers.

How carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed?

Doctors trying to determine carpal tunnel syndrome usually try to look into the symptoms and signs associated with the condition. One key factor that doctors look into when diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome include whether the symptoms affect the little finger of the hand. The median nerve does not provide sensory signals to the little finger. Symptoms that might affect it would indicate other conditions.

Doctors may also employ testing the feeling and strength of the hand muscles by tapping, pressing or bending the wrist. Doing so can bring the symptoms in many people. Diagnostic tests for carpal tunnel syndrome include taking an electromyogram to measure the electrical signals in the muscles and a nerve condition study to check if nerve signals are slowed down in the carpal tunnel when an electric chock is passed through it.

How to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?

Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with proper hand use. Proper bending and flexing of hands can help prevent one from having the condition. Giving the hands considerable rest periods especially during prolonged use may also help.

How to treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

Treatment for mild carpal tunnel syndrome include applying cold packs on the wrist and taking longer breaks. Effective treatment for the condition may also include using anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve swelling and pain.