What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
When it comes to hand, wrist, and elbow injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome is very well-known. Carpal tunnel occurs when repetitive actions put pressure on the median nerve, which is the nerve that helps you to move and experience sensations in your hand, fingers, wrist, and forearm.
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Surprisingly, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the few hand conditions that doesn’t cause pain as its primary symptom. With carpal tunnel syndrome, you can expect to feel muscle weakness (constantly dropping objects or having limited grip strength) and numbness or tingling in your palm – it may feel like you’ve been shocked by something when you move your fingers.
If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, seek out a medical professional. The sooner you start treatment for your carpal tunnel, the less likely it is that you’ll suffer permanent damage.
Causes and Risk Factors
The median nerve in your palm is surrounded by the carpal tunnel. However, if anything happens to irritate or squeeze the median nerve, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This includes an injury to the wrist, swelling, and even arthritis.
Additionally, there are certain risk factors associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, such as:
- Sex. Carpal tunnel syndrome tends to appear more in those of the female sex. This may happen because women have smaller wrists, meaning that the carpal tunnel is narrower for women than for men.
- Anatomic issues. If you dislocate or fracture your wrist, it can cause a deformity in the area, which can narrow the space through which the median nerve travels (and compress it).
- Conditions that affect nerves. If you suffer from a chronic illness like diabetes, your risk of nerve damage and nerve-related ailments is increased.
- Conditions that increase inflammation. If you suffer from chronic conditions that cause flare-ups and inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, it can cause swelling.
- Other factors, such as obesity, certain medications, fluid retention, and repetitive work tasks can also increase your risk of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Treatment and Prevention
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, you should make sure to take breaks from activities that strain your wrist, limit constant, repetitive motions (where you can), and work in a warmer environment to keep your hands from becoming stiff. You can also use ice to reduce swelling, stay away from activities that increase inflammation, and even splint the wrist to avoid moving and adding pressure to the area.
Treatments include pain management procedures, including injections, physical therapy, or even surgery (if you do not respond to conservative treatment). The goal with all of these treatments is the same: to release pressure on the nerve by cutting whichever ligament is pressing against it.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that benefits from early diagnose and intervention. If you have any suspicions that you might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, you should reach out to our team orthopedic specialists. We can get you back to feeling like yourself!
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