Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Many people equate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with typing, however, it is a medical condition that affects people who engage in many repetitive activities. Therefore, the "fear" of Carpal Tunnel should not be the sole reason for avoiding professions where extensive typing is required. In fact, there is much you can do to minimize the risk of developing Carpal Tunnel, while maintaining excellent typing skills.
The carpal tunnel information on this site is for general information purposes only. You should seek out your doctor or healthcare professional's opinion regarding symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and recovery related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the best known of a class of disorders called repetitive strain injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition resulting from damage to or compression of the median nerve at the wrist. The median nerve controls most of the feeling and sensation in the fingers and thumb. When the median nerve is damaged or compressed it can result in pain, tingling, and general discomfort in the affected hand and wrist. The pain tends to be most acute during periods of activity. In extreme cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can be debilitating and require care and treatment â€“ or possibly surgery - to correct. In most instances, it can be treated and normal function restored. This is particularly true if it is caught and treated early. However, carpal tunnel can be progressive in nature, and if left untreated, can become painful and disabling.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can have several causes. However, it is most commonly associated with repetitive activities involving the hands, fingers, and wrists. For example assembly line workers, computer programmers, data entry professionals, and others are susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, anyone can be at risk for carpal tunnel. Any periods of increased activity involving the hands and fingers can result in carpal tunnel symptoms. As a general rule, as the repetitive or stressful activity is decreased the symptoms generally improve or disappear altogether. However, prolonged repetitive activity can result in chronic and increasingly severe carpal tunnel symptoms.
In addition to repetitive activity, carpal tunnel can also be caused by fracture, dislocation, or trauma to a carpal tunnel bone in the wrist or even a fracture or trauma to a bone in the arm.
There are also other less common causes for carpal tunnel syndrome. A physician can diagnose carpal tunnel and assist in the identification of root causes. Women are more likely than men to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are a number possible symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. And while they can vary from person to person and situation to situation, most individuals suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome exhibit at least some of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the fingers and wrist and possibly radiating up the forearm
- Numbness in the fingers, hand, and wrist
- Paresthesia: a tingling or burning sensation in the fingers
- Weakness in the affected hand and wrist
- Difficulty clenching a tight fist or grabbing or picking up objects
- Loss of sensation in fingers
- Sharp, shooting pain in the fingers and wrist
- A feeling of swelling in the fingers and wrist, even when there may be no visible signs of swelling.
What Treatments are Available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are a number of treatment options for someone suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal Tunnel treatments include:
- Refraining from any repetitive functions and activities that have resulted in the onset of the carpal tunnel condition.
- Taking frequent breaks from repetitive activities that can contribute to carpal tunnel injuries.
- Immobilization of the wrist and fingers through the use of special braces.
- Physical therapy
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Massage Therapy to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms
- Medication for pain and inflammation
- Special exercises and better posture
- Ergonomic techniques and equipment, such as keyboards, keyboard pads, etc.
- In severe or advanced cases of carpal tunnel, surgery may be required to provide relief. The most common surgery is carpal tunnel release surgery.