Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a relatively common but potentially very debilitating condition of the hand and wrist. It can prevent regular use of the entire arm, as well as the shoulder. With our increasing use of mobile phones and laptop computers, carpal tunnel issues are on the rise.
It is thought that one in every twenty people in the US suffers from it at one point. Surgery is often performed to repair any damage that it causes, but this is not always necessary. Other physical treatments and therapies are effective in reducing the pain and easing the symptoms.
In this post, you are going to find out what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is, what causes it and how it can be prevented and treated. If you want to learn more, read on!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by direct and intense pressure on the nerve located at the bottom of the palm. This nerve is called the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow area on the wrist, at the side of the palm. Its primary role is to protect the tendons that are responsible for bending the fingers as well as this median nerve. If a lot of pressure is put on this area, it causes weakness and pain in the wrist and the hand. For many people, it results in a feeling of numbness or tingling in one or more fingers. This can reduce the overall functionality of the arm and can cause extreme shoulder pain for some people.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Changes in hormone balances, caused by conditions such as pregnancy or issues with the thyroid.
- Injuries that directly affect the wrist, such as sprains, fractures and dislocations.
- The retention of fluid caused by pregnancy, diabetes and issues with the endocrine system
- Arthritis and other degenerative disorders
- Certain medications, such as steroids
Particular jobs and professions can leave people prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if they require repetitive motions or vibrations. Such jobs include:
- Assembly line workers
- Heavy machinery operators
- Data entry clerks
- And even Dentist
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Surgery is often considered as a last resort for those suffering from the condition, as there are other, less invasive treatments available that are highly effective. This is particularly the case for those who suffer from whole arm and shoulder pain as a result of it. These include:
- Nerve gliding: You might be asking yourself ‘What are median nerve glides?’ If you have never heard of them, but these are exercises designed especially for the tissues that affect the nervous system. It is thought by doing these exercises, you are increasing the blood flow to the area which will reduce pain and inflammation.
- Splinting: Supporting the wrist in a neutral position and reducing movement for up to six weeks can be particularly useful for many sufferers of the condition.
- Manual therapy: Many physical therapists will attempt manipulation of the spine to help their patients overcome the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.