Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects the hand and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand through a narrow passageway called the carpal tunnel, becomes compressed or squeezed.

The carpal tunnel is a small, rigid tunnel-like structure located on the palm side of the wrist.

The primary causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:

Repetitive hand movements: Activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements, such as typing, using a computer mouse, assembly line work, or playing musical instruments, can lead to CTS over time.

Prolonged wrist positioning: Maintaining the wrist in an extended or flexed position for prolonged periods, such as while using a computer keyboard with improper ergonomics, can contribute to the development of CTS.

Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, ganglions and obesity may increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Acute Injury to the Wrist: forearm and wrist fractures

The symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can vary in severity and may include:

Numbness and tingling: Often felt in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. The sensation may radiate up the forearm or even to the upper arm. In the initial stages, it's more prevalent at night and may cause sleep disturbances.

Weakness: Hand weakness and difficulty holding objects or performing fine motor tasks can occur due to the compromised function of the median nerve.

Pain: Pain may be present in the hand and wrist, and it may worsen during nighttime.

Hand clumsiness: A decrease in grip strength and coordination may lead to increased dropping of objects.

To diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a doctor or a hand therapist will typically perform a physical examination and may order nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG) to evaluate nerve function and identify the location of the compression. Early diagnosis is essential to prevent the condition from worsening and causing permanent nerve damage.

Treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may include:

Rest and activity modification: Reducing or avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms can provide relief.

Wrist splints: Wearing a wrist splint at night can help keep the wrist in a neutral position and reduce pressure on the median nerve.

Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help alleviate pain and inflammation.

Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel can provide short-term relief from symptoms.

Hand therapy: Specific tendon gliding and  Median nerve gliding exercises, a resting wrist splint will relieve the pressure on the nerve.

 Surgery: If conservative treatments are not effective or the condition is severe, carpal tunnel release surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

 Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome involves maintaining good ergonomics, taking breaks during repetitive tasks, and performing hand and wrist exercises. If you suspect you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or are experiencing symptoms, it's important to consult a Hand therapist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome