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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The median nerve is one of the major nerves in our hands, it travels through the carpal tunnel passage in the wrist and when it is squeezed or compressed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs. The median nerve is responsible for controlling the movements of our thumb and all the fingers except the pinky finger. Women and older people are more likely to have this problem.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

There is a small and narrow passageway in our wrist which is about one inch wide, it is known as carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is responsible for protecting the median nerve and flexor tendons. Due to the presence of rigid boundaries and less space, the carpal tunnel can neither increase in size
nor stretch.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel:

  1. It causes pain, burning and tingling in the thumb primarily than in the index, middle and ring fingers.
  2. Sensations of shock can also be felt in the thumb and fingers.
  3. The pain or tingling may travel up the forearm to the shoulder.
  4. Over time, the weakness and clumsiness in the hand making it difficult to perform certain tasks like buttoning and unbuttoning the shirt. 
  5. Things can drop out of the hand due to the loss of proprioception (awareness of where our hand is in space).

In severe cases of this syndrome, the strength of the grip lessens because of the shrinking of the hand muscles.

Causes for Carpal Tunnel:

Carpal Tunnel occurs when:

  • The tunnels become narrowed
  • Synovium tissues surrounding flexor tendons swell. (When synovium tissues swell they take up
    space in the carpal tunnel).

RISK FACTORS:

  • Heredity: In some people, the carpal tunnel is smaller which means less space for the nerve. This problem is hereditary, sometimes.
  • Repetition: Making the same hand or wrist movements over and over again for a long period of time which puts an immense amount of pressure on the nerve.
  • The position of the hand: Doing exercises that involve the wrist or hand in a particularly uncomfortable position for a prolonged period increases pressure on the nerve which results in its swelling.
  • Health Conditions: Conditions like Diabetes, thyroid gland imbalance, and rheumatoid arthritis can
    prove to be helpful in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Diagnosis:

To diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, doctors run a set of tests which is known as nerve conduction studies. They also use your history and a physical examination to diagnose this condition.

Treatment:

  • Lifestyle Changes: If you are facing this condition because of repetitive motions, you could lessen the frequency of that activity. 
  • Immobilization: Using a splint on the doctor’s advice to lessen the pressure on the nerves can be helpful.
  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid shots are given by the doctors generally to reduce the swelling.
  • Surgery: If nothing works out and the problem gets out of the hand. Consultation with the Orthopedic Surgeon about surgery is advised. 



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