What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Ligaments of wrist Posterior view illustrationThere are many different types of repetitive stress injuries. These types of injuries commonly occur when there is an overuse of the bodys muscles in one particular area. Those who repeatedly move their wrists may be susceptible to a form of repetitive stress injury known as carpal tunnel syndrome. In this article, well discuss carpal tunnel syndrome, letting you know what the symptoms are and how you can treat the problem.

Median Nerve Compression

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the median nerve, which is located in the wrist, is compressed. Those who experience carpal tunnel may feel a sense of tingling or numbness present in the wrist. Carpal tunnel sometimes causes the afflicted person to wake in the middle of the night, experiencing pain.

A sense of coldness or weakness of the hand and wrist may also be present. You may be able to diagnose a case of carpal tunnel syndrome by attempting to wring out a washcloth. If you feel a sense of weakness present in your wrists, you may want to speak to a doctor for a further diagnosis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects both men and women, but it is more commonly found in women. Its most commonly affects people around age fifty, and it affects approximately one out of ten people in the United States. Its a problem that grows over time, and increased hand use and activity can activate the injury. Contrary to popular belief, office-type work may not be a major cause of developing carpal tunnel. A report published by Harvard showed that computer usage did not affect the occurrence rate of carpal tunnel.

Causes

One cause of carpal tunnel can be physical stress to the wrists. It may develop after the fracture of one of the bones in the arm, or a dislocation of one of the carpal bones. Old bone fractures can heal incorrectly, resulting in carpal tunnel, and internal hemorrhaging can result in the forming of hematoma within the wrist, causing the syndrome.

Treatment

There are many different ways of treating the syndrome. In minor cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist braces are usually used to lessen the amount of strain that is placed on them when doing things such as typing. The brace is often coupled with non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, to reduce the swelling and lessen the pain. If the brace and the drug treatment arent successfully taking care of the problem, there are other methods that may be employed.

Deep tissue massages can be helpful, as it can help to release the tension placed on the wrists nerves. Ultrasonic therapy may also be used. In more extreme cases of carpal tunnel, surgery may be the necessary route when it comes to relieving the pain. There are many different surgical methods used, depending on where the problem lies.

Most of the surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis with the surgery lasting between ten and fifteen minutes. The techniques used often require a period of rest between a few days and a few weeks, allowing you to return to normal functioning quickly and effectively.

illustration Henry Gray (18251861). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918.