Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What is it? Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What is it?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, surrounded by bones and ligaments, through which the median nerve and tendons pass.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What is it?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms:

  1. Numbness or tingling: People with CTS often experience numbness or tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the thumb side of the ring finger. This sensation may extend up the arm.
  2. Weakness: As the condition progresses, weakness in the hand and a tendency to drop objects may occur.
  3. Pain or discomfort: Individuals with CTS may experience pain or discomfort in the hand and wrist. This pain may radiate up the arm or down into the fingers.
  4. Nighttime symptoms: Many people with CTS report more severe symptoms at night, often waking up with numbness or pain.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes:

  1. Repetitive hand use: Activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist motions, such as typing or using a mouse, can contribute to the development of CTS.
  2. Hand and wrist position: Prolonged or frequent use of the hand and wrist in a flexed or extended position, especially if combined with forceful gripping, can increase the risk.
  3. Medical conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders can increase the likelihood of developing CTS.
  4. Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to fluid retention and swelling, which may affect the carpal tunnel.
  5. Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to CTS.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment:

  1. Rest and activity modification: Avoiding activities that worsen symptoms and taking breaks to rest the hands can help alleviate discomfort.
  2. Wrist splints: Wearing a splint at night or during activities that aggravate symptoms can help keep the wrist in a neutral position and relieve pressure on the median nerve.
  3. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids may be recommended to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  4. Physical therapy: Exercises to improve strength and flexibility in the hand and wrist may be beneficial.
  5. Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend injecting corticosteroids into the carpal tunnel to reduce inflammation.
  6. Surgery: In severe cases or when conservative treatments fail, surgical intervention, known as carpal tunnel release, may be considered to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

In addition to the core treatments and interventions mentioned earlier, there are several other approaches and considerations for managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS):

  1. Ergonomic changes: Making adjustments to your workspace or daily activities to ensure proper ergonomics can help reduce strain on the wrists. This may include using ergonomic keyboards and mice, maintaining a neutral wrist position, and taking frequent breaks.
  2. Cold compresses: Applying a cold compress to the wrist can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. This can be particularly helpful after activities that may exacerbate CTS symptoms.
  3. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk and severity of CTS. Excess body weight can contribute to the development of the condition.
  4. Alternative therapies: Some individuals find relief from CTS symptoms through alternative therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic care. While the evidence on their effectiveness is mixed, some people report benefits.
  5. Ultrasound therapy: This non-invasive therapy uses sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce inflammation. It may be recommended by healthcare professionals as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
  6. Vitamin B6 supplementation: Some studies suggest that vitamin B6 supplementation may help alleviate symptoms of CTS. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
  7. Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding activities that worsen symptoms, such as prolonged or forceful gripping, can be crucial in managing CTS. Finding alternative ways to perform tasks or using assistive devices can be beneficial.
  8. Nerve gliding exercises: These exercises, recommended by physical therapists, aim to improve the flexibility and mobility of the median nerve, potentially reducing symptoms.
  9. Yoga and stretching exercises: Certain yoga poses and hand stretches may help improve flexibility and reduce tension in the wrists. However, it’s essential to perform these exercises with proper technique and under the guidance of a qualified instructor.

It’s crucial to note that the effectiveness of these additional approaches can vary from person to person. Before trying any new treatments, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on your specific condition and symptoms.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Exercises

The exercises for the carpal tunnel syndrome can help relieve pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. They can therefore aid in the management and relief of carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. These at-home workouts may also be beneficial for those who are at-risk but do not currently have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome exercises