Injury guide Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, tingling, and numbness. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm into the palm of your hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This compression can lead to various symptoms and can interfere with your daily activities. Here's a guide on carpal tunnel syndrome, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention:
- Repetitive Hand Movements: Activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements, such as typing, using a computer mouse, or assembly line work, can contribute to CTS.
- Wrist Position: Prolonged or extreme flexion or extension of the wrist, especially during activities like typing, can increase pressure on the median nerve.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders can increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women may experience swelling, which can compress the median nerve.
- Numbness or Tingling: Usually in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers.
- Weakness: Difficulty gripping objects or making a fist.
- Pain: Radiating pain from the wrist up the arm or down into the palm or fingers.
- Worsening Symptoms at Night: Many people with CTS experience more severe symptoms at night.
If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, it's essential to see a healthcare professional, typically a neurologist or orthopedic specialist. Diagnosis may include:
- Physical Examination: The doctor will assess your hand, wrist, and arm and check for signs of CTS.
- Nerve Conduction Studies: These tests measure the electrical activity in your nerves and muscles and can determine if the median nerve is functioning correctly.
- Electromyography (EMG): This test measures the electrical activity of muscles and can help diagnose muscle and nerve disorders.
- Rest and Modification of Activities: Avoid activities that worsen symptoms and take regular breaks if your work involves repetitive hand movements.
- Wrist Splints: Wearing a splint at night keeps your wrist in a neutral position, relieving pressure on the median nerve.
- Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches can improve strength and flexibility in your wrist and hand.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Corticosteroid Injections: Injections into the carpal tunnel can provide temporary relief from symptoms.
- Surgery (Carpal Tunnel Release): If conservative treatments don't work, your doctor might recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
- Maintain Good Posture: Proper ergonomics at work can reduce strain on your hands and wrists.
- Take Breaks: If your work involves repetitive hand movements, take regular breaks to rest your hands and wrists.
- Hand Exercises: Perform regular hand and wrist exercises to improve strength and flexibility.
- Manage Underlying Health Conditions: If you have diabetes, arthritis, or other medical conditions, work with your healthcare provider to manage them effectively.
It's essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance if you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome. They can provide personalized recommendations based on the severity of your symptoms and overall health.