What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful disorder of the wrist and hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel formed by the bones and other tissues of your wrist. This tunnel protects your median nerve. The median nerve gives you feeling in your thumb, and index, middle and ring fingers. When other tissues in the carpal tunnel such as ligaments and tendons get swollen or inflamed, they press against the median nerve. That pressure can make part of your hand hurt or feel numb.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Repeating the same hand movements over and over can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It’s most common in people whose jobs require pinching or gripping with the wrist held bent. People at risk include people who use computers, carpenters, grocery checkers, assembly-line workers, meat packers, musicians and mechanics. Hobbies such as gardening, needlework, golfing and canoeing can sometimes bring on the symptoms.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is linked to other things too. It may be caused by an injury to the wrist such as a fracture, or it may be caused by a disease such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also common during the last few months of pregnancy.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Numbness or tingling in your hand and fingers, especially the thumb and index and middle fingers.
• Pain in your wrist, palm or forearm.
• More numbness or pain at night than during the day. The pain may be so bad it wakes you up. You may shake or rub your hand to get relief.
• More pain when you use your hand or wrist more.
• Trouble gripping objects.
• Weakness in your thumb.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
If Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by a medical problem your doctor will probably first treat that problem.
Your doctor may ask you to rest your wrist or change how you use your hand. They may also ask you to wear a splint on your wrist. The splint keeps your wrist from moving but lets your hand do most of what it normally does. A splint can help ease the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially at night.
Putting ice on your wrist, massaging the area and doing stretching exercises may help too.