What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The wrist is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand.
Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Irritation of the median nerve in this manner causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers -- a condition known as "carpal tunnel syndrome."
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
People with carpal tunnel syndrome initially feel numbness and tingling of the hand in the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and part of the fourth fingers). These sensations are often more pronounced at night and can awaken people from sleep.
The reason symptoms are worse at night may be related to the flexed-wrist sleeping position and/or fluid accumulating around the wrist and hand while lying flat. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a temporary condition that completely resolves or it can persist and progress.
As the disease progresses, patients can develop a burning sensation, and/or cramping and weakness of the hand. Decreased grip strength can lead to frequent dropping of objects from the hand. Occasionally, sharp shooting pains can be felt in the forearm. Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome can also lead to atrophy (wasting) of the hand muscles, particularly those near the base of the thumb in the palm of the hand.
Suggestions for treating carpal tunnel syndrome
The choice of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and any underlying disease that might be causing the symptoms.
Treatment options include rest, immobilisation of the wrist, ice applications, osteopathy, physiotherapy, myotherapy and remedial massage.
Those whose occupations are aggravating the symptoms should modify their activities. For example, computer keyboards and chair height may need to be adjusted to optimise comfort. These measures, as well as periodic resting and range of motion stretching exercise of the wrists can actually prevent the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are caused by repetitive overuse. Underlying conditions or diseases are treated individually.
Fractures can require orthopaedic management. Wrist swelling that can be associated with pregnancy resolves in time after delivery of the baby. In rare cases surgery may be required as a last resort.
Your practitioner at Premier Health Partners is trained to determine the most appropriate form of treatment that is tailored specifically for you.
Contact us now for immediate advice regarding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.