Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is the area on the palm of your hand that is surrounded by bones and ligaments. Carpel tunnel syndrome occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve is the main nerve in your hand that is on top of your wrist and forearm. When the median nerve has too much pressure on it, it can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hands and arms. There are several reasons why you may experience the syndrome, including health issues, repetitive hand movements, and sometimes the natural anatomy of your wrist.
The condition is caused by pressure placed on the median nerve. The median nerve starts from your forearm through your wrist. The area is referred to as the carpal tunnel from your forearm to your hand. The carpal tunnel is responsible for providing sensation to the palm of your hand (except for your pinky finger). If anything irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition is one that doesn't have a single cause. Several factors can lead to the condition. While it's not a permanent issue if adequately treated, it's important to get medical attention if you feel like you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
The condition can impact almost anyone, but certain factors place people at a higher risk. You will likely notice that the symptoms of the syndrome will begin slowly and gradually become more problematic. Below you will find some of the common risk factors to be aware of.
- Weakness: The median nerve is responsible for the muscles in your thumb that help you grab or hold on to things. You may drop items more or feel weak.
- Numbness or Tingling: You will likely notice one or both in your fingers (except for your pinky finger) tingling or feeling numb. The sensation can also be felt from your hand to your arm due to the median nerve.
What are Some of the Common Risk Factors?
As mentioned, there is no singular cause for the condition. With that, some risk factors make you more susceptible to getting the condition. Below you will find factors that can irritate the median nerve and indirectly cause the disease.
- Obesity: Those who have excessive weight can experience inflammation, which can put pressure on your nerves.
- Certain Medical Conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can cause the condition as they come with inflammation, which can put more pressure on our median nerve. Chronic conditions like diabetes can also cause nerve damage. Other medical conditions include thyroid disorders, kidney failure, and menopause.
- Sex: The condition is more common in women. This is since their carpal tunnel is generally smaller as compared to men.
- Repetition: If you have a job or play a sport with continuous repetitive movements, you may be at a higher risk. The repetition can put harmful pressure on your median nerve.
- Fluid Retention: Body fluid changes can put pressure on your carpal tunnel and irritate your medial nerve. This can occur during pregnancy or menopause due to the fluid retention changes during both periods.
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What are the Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Initial treatment options at Yashar Neurosurgery begin conservatively. Dr. Yashar may prescribe medication and may do some activity modifications. This will be catered to your unique needs as each patient is different. If conservative treatment is unsuccessful, Dr. Yashar may suggest surgery.
While we are happy to provide you with the necessary medical care to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome, we also want to help you maintain your health and prevent any future issues. While there are no proven strategies to avoid the condition, you can minimize stress on your hands and wrists. Below you will find some everyday things that can help reduce your risk. We will also advise you on any measures you can take that would be specific to your own medical needs.
- Take Breaks: Take short breaks as often as you can (at least every hour). You can stretch your hands and switch up tasks to help reduce any consistent pressure on your hands and wrists.
- Form: When you are lifting or doing repetitive tasks, watch your form. Make sure you are not putting any excess pressure on your wrists or hands.
- Computer Mouse: If you use a mouse instead of a trackpad, make sure it is comfortable. The repetitive use of an uncomfortable mouse can cause issues.
- Warmth: Be sure that your hands are always warm. Cold hands can become stiff and inflexible. Make sure and wear hand warmers or stretch your hands out often to get the blood flowing.