The human wrist comprises an intricate system of nerves, muscles and tendons in order to control its movement. The carpal tunnel is a tunnel-like structure within the wrist that allows these flexor tendons, the median nerve and muscles to run through it, connecting the bones of the fingers to the hands and wrist.
In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, the transverse capital ligament causes pressure to develop on the median nerve. This is the nerve that controls movement of the hand and fingers, and courses through the carpal tunnel to the nine flexor tendons.
Flexor tendons are coated with a lubricated membrane allowing them to move smoothly across each other. The transverse capital ligament is a thick ligament that moves over the carpal tunnel connecting one end of the wrist to the other.
In a person suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, the tendons become dilated and the median nerve coverings become compressed. This restricts the smooth gliding movement of the tendons through the carpal tunnel. As a consequence, the sufferer experiences a feeling of tenderness and pain.
Over the past decade or more, the incidences of carpal tunnel syndrome in adults appear to be on the rise. There are several factors that may cause it. One of the leading reasons is noted to be recurrent activity, for instance, placing the wrists in the downward position while using a computer keyboard. This is why several organisations today invest a lot of money in making sure their employees have access to suitable ergonomics such as keyboard wrist rests, wrist braces, appropriate furniture and so on.
There are a lot of people who do not ensure they practice correct ergonomics at their home. With the rising use of laptops over desktops, it is important that users take this into consideration during their usage. People who constantly use heavy equipment or gardening tools, or even those who paint and engage in other activities and hobbies may fall prey to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other factors related to carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by health reasons, such as disease or congenital disorders. For instance, a woman who is pregnant can develop inflamed wrists as a result of water accumulating in that area of the body. This can lead to her developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Other diseases that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include: Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, complications of the thyroid or pituitary gland, menopause, vitamin deficiency and hurt caused to the region.
Initial signs of carpal tunnel syndrome include a faint tingling or burning feeling in the hand, wrist or fingers. The hand or wrist may begin to feel weary, with a pins and needles sensation. As days and weeks progress, these symptoms become more pronounced and there is greater indication of shooting pains in the nerves, numbness, sensitivity to temperature and restricted mobility. The affected area may also become inflamed and the individual may lose the ability to lift items that they were once normally able to do. If treatment is not sought at this stage, it could lead to a recurrent pain and the loss of the use of the fingers or hand.
There are easy treatment options available for carpal tunnel syndrome but these work over extended periods of time. In most cases, identifying the disease in the early stages as well as efficient ergonomic treatment can help a user get over carpal tunnel syndrome. It is important to find a suitable doctor to treat the condition as opposed to trying to treat it by oneself, so that future recurrences of the condition can be avoided.
When the condition has been identified, your healthcare professional may suggest a variety of treatments, including ice therapy to bring down the inflammation, a wrist brace, light exercises to promote the flow of blood in that region, some creams like capsaicin cream and NSAIDs that can bring down the inflammation and reduce pain.
Treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of the syndrome to a great extent and further therapy can help the individual adopt proper ergonomics so that the condition can be brought back to normal. Chiropractic care and acupuncture may also help reduce the pain.
Steroids injected into the carpal tunnel region can bring down any inflammation. This can help reduce the pain for several months and can remove the need for surgery. This treatment can be conducted every couple of months.
Surgical intervention for carpal tunnel syndrome is recommended in extreme cases. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center: “Every year more than 500,000 people in the nation have surgeries related to carpal tunnel. There were between 70 – 90% of those who underwent surgery that were pain free following surgery.” (Simon, Harvey, MD. “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Surgery.” Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. University of Maryland Medical Center, 12 May 2009. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.)
Invasive procedures are seen as the final resort for chronic sufferers of the condition. As with other invasive procedures, there are risks involved. A healthcare professional may encourage the individual to first try non invasive therapies that have been proven to work, before recommending surgery.
In certain cases, being overweight may lead to an individual exhibiting the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. In this case, a medical professional may prescribe a special diet along with physical activity, along with special exercises that will promote movement of the arm, wrist, hand and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated by several types of therapy and movement of the affected region can be restored. A healthcare professional would be able to prescribe the right therapy for effective pain relief.