Alternative name: Median nerve compression
If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, you will notice a burning, tingling, or itching numbness that spreads through your palm, thumb, and first three fingers. Your hand will have reduced grip strength and potential pain as the condition worsens, with the tingling sensation likely extending up your arm as far as your shoulder. Onset is gradual and does not require a specific injury to trigger the symptoms, but is usually the result of a slow irritation of the synovium, causing it to swell and fill the carpal tunnel, compressing the median nerve and causing a loss of feeling.
While carpal tunnel syndrome can affect anyone, there are some circumstances that increase the risk of developing symptoms.
Females are as much as three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, likely due to smaller wrists allowing less space for swelling to occur.
Due to your family history, you may simply be predisposed to having smaller carpal tunnels naturally and are therefore more likely to experience carpal tunnel syndrome.
Repetitive motions in the wrist, arm or hand may mean you have a higher likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, as it may cause repeated aggravation of the synovium.
Wrist fractures or dislocations may create abnormal conditions that increase the likelihood of inflammation with use.
Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to an extended period where symptoms get worse, and permanent muscle damage in extreme cases. There may be some cases when symptoms go away after some time before returning.
Prevention and Treatment
Carpal tunnel syndrome can usually be avoided for most people by paying attention to how you use your wrists. If you work a desk job where you are typing for most of the time, pay attention to how you use your hands and wrists. Avoiding excessive wrist flexing and keeping them straight and in a neutral position can go a long way towards reducing your chances of developing symptoms. If you are having trouble keeping your wrists in the proper position, a splint or brace can help you keep them in the right place.
Treatment for carpal tunnel depends on how advanced your symptoms are. These include some of the following treatments, dependent on the individual case and the recommendation of a registered doctor.
Corticosteroid injection: An injection to the inflamed areas could reduce pain and allow for increased range of motion, although this has been shown to be temporary and is largely used to diagnose the issue.
Immobilization: Your doctor may suggest a splint to ensure your wrist remains straight, allowing for the most extra available space in the carpal tunnel. It will also reduce further irritation caused by excess wrist flexing, and allow your wrist to stay neutral while asleep.
Medication: Anti-inflammatory drugs could be used to reduce swelling in the area.
Surgery: A treatment usually only considered if a patient is in extreme discomfort and other treatments have proven unsuccessful. Usually achieved through an endoscopic procedure, but may require open surgery in rare cases.
Massage therapy has also been shown to be an effective solution for many patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. At Serene Massage Clinic, our registered massage therapists regularly treat carpal tunnel syndrome with excellent results. Book an appointment with us today!