Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common and painful disorder of the wrist and hand. In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms worsen over time. If you think you may be dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment before symptoms become more severe.
What Is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway that allows the median nerve to pass from the forearm to the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is pinched or pressed. Pressure from the pinched nerve may cause swelling in the tunnel resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and wrist.
There are various factors that may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Risk factors for this condition include:
– Repetitive Stress
– Joint dislocations
– Fluid retention during pregnancy
– Swelling of the flexor tendons
Symptoms usually occur along the nerve path and may cause the hand to “fall asleep.” Symptoms are often times felt during the night, but may be noticed during the day as well, while performing normal activities. In most cases, symptoms begin gradually and may come and go. In severe cases, permanent damage may occur, causing loss of sensation and strength in the hand and wrist.
Some symptoms include:
– Numbness and pain in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers
– Weak grip
– Sensitivity to cold
– Muscle deterioration
Providing a detailed summary of medical conditions, injuries, and how the hands are currently being used, are necessary when diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. Nerve tests and x-rays may be taken in order to check for fractures, arthritis, and other possible nerve issues.
Treatment options will depend on the severity of the condition. Early treatment options include:
– A wrist splint to reduce pressure on the nerve
– Steroid injections to reduce swelling
– Activity modification
If symptoms persist, or become severe, surgery may be recommended.