A hand and arm condition, Carpal tunnel syndrome cause tingling, numbness, weakness and various other symptoms in the hand. This is an irritation of the median that travels down the forearm into the hand. Very less percentage of the population is affected by this disease and most commonly, middle age women experience this syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
This syndrome generally starts with a tingling sensation in the thumb, middle finger and index finger. The numbness or tingling sensation may come and go and is often associated with discomfort in hand and wrist. Some of the most commonly seen symptoms include:
- Numbness: If you are experiencing numbness or tingling in your fingers, especially index or thumb; but not in your little finger, there are high chances that you may be suffering from this condition. You might feel this sensation while holding the steering wheel, newspaper or while holding your cup of coffee. If the symptoms are left untreated, the sensations may extend up to your arm.
- Weakness: Do you have a tendency to drop things? Do you feel weak in your arms and hand? Well, this may be due to weakness of the pinching muscles, controlled by the median nerve.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a rare condition in infants and small children. The main cause of this neurological disorder is compression of the median nerve. Generally, it has been seen that anything that compresses, irritates or crowds the median nerve can lead to this disorder. For instance a fractured wrist can irritate the nerves, which leads to inflammation and swelling and ultimately to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
However, doctors and researchers have not been able to find a single cause that forms the foundation of carpal tunnel syndromes. This disorder results from a combination of risk factors.
Associated Risk Factors
Carpal tunnel syndrome is known to be associated with a number of factors that increases the chances of aggravating the problem. Some of them are:
- Anatomic Factors: Dislocation or wrist fracture alters the space within the carpal tunnel which creates extraneous pressure on the nerve. In such a case, people with smaller carpal tunnel are more likely to suffer from this condition.
- Sex: As compared to men, women in large number suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome because they have relatively smaller carpal tunnels.
- Inflammatory Conditions: An illness characterized by inflammation exerts pressure on the median nerve thus posing as a risk factor. People suffering from arthritis have greater chances of acquiring this disease.
- Nerve Damaging Conditions: Chronic illnesses, like diabetes, increases the chances of nerve damage thus giving rise to this condition.
Diagnosis and Tests
The doctor may conduct few tests to determine whether you are suffering from the condition or not. Some of the diagnostic tests include:
- Symptoms history: The neurologist will review the symptoms. There are high chances that the pattern of symptoms offers a clue to the cause of the problem. The doctor will take a close look at the history of symptoms before asking you to undertake other tests.
- Physical Examination: The doctor will further conduct a physical examination to check for the symptoms of the disease. He will test the feeling and strengths of the muscles by simply pressing the nerves, bending the wrist or tapping the nerve.
- Electromyogram: This test is helpful in measuring electric discharges produced in the muscles. During the evaluation, the doctor will inserts thin needles electrode into muscles and evaluate the muscle electrical activity.
Carpal tunnel syndrome must be treated as soon as possible to avoid it becoming worse. If you are suffering from mild symptoms, you can ease the discomfort by taking frequent breaks, applying a cold pack, avoiding the activities that worsen the situation and by shaking off the hand.
- Non-surgical Method: NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs helps relieve the pain a person might be experiencing from Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Wrist Splinting: You can even choose a splint that holds the wrist as you sleep as it will help relieve nighttime symptoms. This is a good option if you are pregnant.
- Corticosteroids: You may be injected with a corticosteroid to relieve the pain. There are various home remedies that will help you treat the pain with ease. You can choose to rotate the wrist and stretch the palms, wear a splint at night and most importantly avoid sleeping on your hand.