What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve as it passes into the hand. The median nerve is located on the palm side of your hand (also called the carpal tunnel). The median nerve provides sensation (ability to feel) to your thumb, index finger, long finger, and part of the ring finger. It supplies the impulse to the muscle going to the thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in one or both of your hands.
Swelling inside your wrist causes the compression in carpal tunnel syndrome. It can lead to numbness, weakness, and tingling on the side of your hand near the thumb.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The pain in your carpal tunnel is due to excess pressure in your wrist and on the median nerve. Inflammation can cause swelling. The most common cause of this inflammation is an underlying medical condition that causes swelling in the wrist, and sometimes obstructed blood flow. Some of the most frequent conditions linked with carpal tunnel syndrome are:
- thyroid dysfunction
- fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause
- high blood pressure
- autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
- fractures or trauma to the wrist
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be made worse if the wrist is overextended repeatedly. Repeated motions of your wrist contribute to swelling and compression of the median nerve. Problems include:
- poor positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse
- prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools
- any repeated movement that overextends your wrist, such as playing the piano or typing
Who Is at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men. Carpal tunnel syndrome is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. Certain conditions increase your risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include smoking, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and a high body mass index (BMI).
Jobs that involve repetitive wrist movement include manufacturing, assembly line work, keyboarding occupations, and construction work. People employed in these occupations may be at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on how severe your pain and symptoms are and if there is weakness.
At Alimran Medical Center, we may recommend any of the following treatments
- Trigger point injections
- Epidural steroid injections
- Transforaminal injections
Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage, disability, and loss of hand function.