What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel Syndrome is a common cause of hand numbness and pain. It is caused due to increased pressure on the median nerve. The eight carpals of the hand form the carpal tunnel. The median nerve enters the hand through the tunnel. The median nerve provides sensation to the thumb, index finger and the middle finger. The carpal tunnel also has nine flexing tendons passing through it. There is a protective sheath present around these flexing tendons. The swelling of these sheaths can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Other health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hormonal disorders like diabetes and thyroid disorders can also cause this syndrome.
The initial symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually appear when the patient is trying to sleep. Patients experience Paresthesia, a condition characterized by tingling, numbness and pain in the thumb, index and middle finger. Difficulty in gripping things and making a fist is common. Patients often drop things. Feelings of clumsiness and weakness are also regularly seen. Strange feelings and pain may radiate up the entire arm.
In the initial stages, treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is conservative in approach. It includes anti-inflammatory medicines and wrist splints. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin or Advil reduce the inflammation and the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The wrist braces help stabilize the carpal tunnel in a neutral position. It is advisable to wear the splint during sleep or during activities that stress the carpal tunnel. Many types of wrist-immobilisers are also available.
It is recommended to use therapy as part of the treatment. It reduces pain and improves flexibility and strength. Performing stretching and resistance exercises on a daily basis are helpful. Physical therapy can help delay or completely avoid surgery. Massage therapy is also useful and can be done without a therapist. The most efficient massage therapy involves Myofascial Release Techniques and Neuromuscular Therapy. In case the symptoms still persist, a cortisone injection to the area reduces inflammation. In more advanced or persistent cases, surgery is the last option. A carpal tunnel release surgery is the most common type in practice.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating disorder, but proper treatment and therapy can help eliminate the pain. It is necessary not to put undue strain on the affected hand.