Carpal Tunnel

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies




Carpal Tunnel Treatment Remedies

 

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

Surrounded by ligaments and multiple bones, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway found on the palm side of your wrist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may also be called median nerve entrapment.

Women are 2 times more likely to get Carpal Tunnel.

The condition can affect people of any age, from youngsters to the elderly.

The older you are, the more common it is to suffer from carpal tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Numbness may signal a carpal tunnel problem. This is characterized by a loss of feeling and sensation at the tips of the fingers and may be localized or generalized across the whole hand.

Carpal tunnel can sometimes be a rather painful condition to live with.

A dull ache in the hands or arms may be a sign that you are experiencing carpel tunnel syndrome.

In some cases, dry or discolored skin may be an indicator for carpel tunnel syndrome. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing these symptoms then they may be caused by another problem so it is important to raise the concern with a healthcare professional.

The regions affected as a consequence of the carpel tunnel syndrome may feel weak, reducing the ability to move in certain ways. This is most prominent in the thumb when attempting to bend it away from the palm.

A burning sensation, very similar to pins and needles, may be present within the hands or lower arms of those suffering from carpel tunnel.

Muscles in the thumb and fingers may waste away as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome. This is most likely to be because of low usage caused by suffering from the condition chronically.

It is most likely that the symptoms of carpal tunnel will be isolated to the hands. The index and middle finger may both be fully affected whilst only half of the ring finger tends to exhibit symptoms.

The fingers are not the only place symptoms can occur. Rarely some symptoms, especially tingling and numbness may extend to areas beyond the fingers.

Either one hand or both hands may be affected as a result of carpal tunnel problems. However, if only one hand is affected initially then usually the other hand will also begin to show symptoms after a while.

Keeping your hand in the same position for a long period of time is considered aggravating to the condition and is likely to increase the symptoms experienced.

Some severe cases of carpel tunnel syndrome see sufferers experience pain down the arm, from the hand up to the elbow.

It may become more difficult to do tasks requiring high dexterity, such as writing or typing.

Carpel tunnel syndrome can induce weakness within the hands that make it difficult to grip and lift certain objects using the hands.

Carpal Tunnel Causes

The median nerve sends messages from the hand to the brain to provide your sense of touch, allowing you to interpret exactly how something feels.

For the hand to move, the brain must send signals down to control the muscles within the palm and fingers. The median nerve acts as a messenger, relaying the movement signals down so we can do everything from writing to making a cup of tea.

Applying any form of pressure to a nerve of the body affects its ability to relay messages from the brain to the structure, in this case the hands.

The nerve becomes compressed if the tissues surrounding it swell up.

The carpal tunnel is the passageway through which the nerve passes to send messages to the hands. The tunnel is naturally small therefore if it becomes even narrower, an individual is likely to experience symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Scientists believe genetics may have a role to play in the conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome appears to be more common in those who have a family history of the disease.

Suffering from diabetes, either type-1 or type-2 makes a person far more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome. Diabetes is characterized by having too much glucose in the blood due to the body being unable to produce the signal for storage. It is believed that high glucose in the bloodstream affects the ability of nerves to send messages, therefore explaining the link with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Having an underactive thyroid gland may increase the probability of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. The thyroid gland produces multiple hormones required for good health therefore under-activity is a risk for many conditions.

Certain forms of injury to the wrist may result in a temporary carpal tunnel syndrome. This is as a result of acute swelling in the region, therefore is unlikely to be a long term issue.

Carpal tunnel is much more common during pregnancy.

Gout, a common form of arthritis, may cause symptoms relating to the carpal tunnel. This occurs as a result of swelling in the wrists, a direct result of the gout but indirectly causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

People may sometimes be born with slight abnormalities in their wrist structure, for example narrowing of the carpal tunnel, which can make them more susceptible to suffering from the condition.

Very rarely, cysts and growths may develop in or around the tendons and/or blood vessels that reside within the carpal tunnel.

Women in the menopause are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Playing a musical instrument, such as a guitar, places increased pressure upon the wrists due to repetitive flexing movements. As a result, carpal tunnel syndrome is much more prevalent amongst musicians compared to the general population.

Individuals working in construction may also be more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. This is due to the effects of vibration exposure upon the nerve, as it is common for these people to do work involving vibrating tools such as a chainsaw.

A few studies have demonstrated an increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome in people who have square wrist, the thickness and width being roughly the same.

People with a high cholesterol diet have an increased risk of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis

Diagnosing the condition early is absolutely vital to prevent any long term damage to the median never caused by compression.

A hand diagram may be used so that the patient can indicate where the experience symptoms and the severity.

Very specific questionnaires may be used that ask questions directly related to the condition and allow a doctor to determine if the carpal tunnel may be the problem.

The doctor will perform a physical examination of the upper extremities to determine whether the cause of the symptoms could be related to a different underlying condition. The hands, arms, shoulders and neck are the main focus as these regions are actively involved in carpal tunnel syndrome but also other conditions with similar symptoms.

When examining the wrists, a medical professional will examine for swelling, tenderness and assess whether there is any discoloration.

Each finger on both hands is physically examined when diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is to determine the level of sensation and the strength of the muscles, in case of any atrophy.

An x-ray is likely to be performed to rule out any fractures or dislocations which could be causing the compression of the nerve.

The Tinel test is a physical examination used to help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. To perform the test, a doctor will tap or press upon the median nerve in the patient’s wrist. A positive result is when the patient feels a tingling sensation in their fingers.

The Phalen, or wrist-flexion test, identified carpal tunnel syndrome by having the patient hold their forearms upright then point the fingers down and press the back of their hands together. If a numbness or tingling sensation is felt within one minute of beginning the test, carpal tunnel syndrome is considered to be the suggested diagnosis.

Ultrasound imaging, like that used to image an unborn child in expecting mothers, can be used by clinicians to observe any impaired movement of the nerves in the wrist. Any impairment in the movement of the median nerve is indicative of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Electrodiagnostics is a useful tool when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome. To perform the test, clinicians place electrodes on the hand and wrists then send small electrical charges to measure the transmission of information down the nerve. The speed at which the impulse travels allows for the diagnosis of the condition.

A more invasive, but precise, method of diagnosis is electromyography. A thin needle is inserted into a muscle that the median nerve passes messages to. Subsequently, any resulting electrical activity in the muscle is monitored on a computer screen to see whether the nerve has suffered any damage.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical diagnostic technique that allows for the anatomy of the wrist to be clearly examined. However, to date this has not been found to be useful with diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome specifically, only in ruling out other causes.

Carpal Tunnel Treatment

There may be an underlying cause of the condition, such as arthritis or diabetes. If this is the case, then it is important to treat this first as the carpal tunnel syndrome may disappear once the underlying problem has been effectively managed.

In the worst cases, immobilization of the wrist in a splint may be required to prevent any further injury from bending or twisting.

Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprophen or aspirin, may help alleviate some of the pressure on the nerve by reducing the inflammation.

Aspirin and other non-prescription pain relief may help ease the symptoms and make the condition more bearable, especially if it has been brought on by short term repetitive or strenuous activity.

Sometimes water pills, medically referred to as diuretics, may be prescribed to reduce the swelling. They work by causing the kidneys to process and remove more water from the body.

Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, can be directly injected into the area to alleviate pressure on the median nerve and provide immediate, but only temporary, relief for the symptoms.

Corticosteroids, for example prednisone, may be used to reduce the inflammation over a longer period of time. Care must be taken in people with diabetes and these drugs are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

According to some scientific research, vitamin B6 supplements may also help ease some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Simple exercises may have some benefit to patients with long-term carpal tunnel problems. The exact exercise plan should be devised and performed under the supervision of a physiotherapist who is trained to use exercise to treat physical ailments.

Acupuncture has been shown to have some benefit in patients, although the exact effectiveness remains highly debated. It involves needles being placed into the skin at specific pressure points, believed to have an effect on pain.

Yoga is a form of gentle exercise that has been shown to reduce pain and improve the physical functions of people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel release is a widespread surgical cure for the condition, and also one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. Surgery is recommended if symptoms last over 6 months. Whilst under local anesthetic, a surgeon will cut the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce any pressure on the median nerve. Because the procedure is performed with local anesthetic, an overnight stay is not generally required.

Endoscopic surgery generally allows for a faster recovery than traditional surgery. Two tiny incisions are made in the palm and wrist for a camera to be inserted at the end of a tube. With the tissue visible on a screen, the surgeon is then able to cut the carpal ligament to the same effect as traditional surgery, but with much less scarring.

Surgery does usually provide some degree of immediate relief, but full recovery can take months. Infection is always a risk and occasionally, the wrist may lose strength as the carpal ligament is cut.

Recurrence following treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is rare and recovery is permanent for most patients.

Some research is looking into whether low-level laser therapy (LLLT), which generates extremely pure light in a single wavelength, could be used in carpal tunnel syndrome. Unfortunately, two trials comparing laser therapy to standard or a placebo laser treatment found no benefits from this therapy.

Botox may be a possible treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, but its effectiveness has yet to be properly studied.

Carpal Tunnel Prevention

The use of ergonomic working equipment may reduce the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the research in this area is inconclusive so the exact impact of this change is unknown.

A splint or support can be worn on the wrist to prevent it from over-bending.

Reduce the force you use to do certain tasks. For example, if you operate a till then press the keys softly rather than smacking them. If you tend to write for long periods of time, use a larger pen with a soft grip adapter and easy flow ink to reduce the amount of pressure applied to the pen on paper.

Taking frequent breaks and stretching your wrists regularly can help prevent symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome from occurring. A break could be alternating task or stopping altogether for a suitable period.

Reducing the use of vibrating equipment where possible will help prevent the condition as it is far more common in people who use drills and chainsaws on a daily basis.

Avoid flexing your wrists up and down too much. It is best to assume a relaxed middle position, especially if using a keyboard where elbow height or lower is ideal.

Having an incorrect posture causes your shoulders to push slightly forward, therefore shortening the neck and shoulder muscles. This ultimately may compress the nerves in your neck which can affect your wrists, fingers and hands to cause carpal tunnel like symptoms.

Keeping your hands warm on a cold day is absolutely vital. Those who work in a cold environment are more likely to experience hand pain and stiffness. If possible, wear glove to keep the wrists and hands at a warm temperature.

For individuals prone to carpal tunnel flair ups, voice recognition software can be used instead of typing to reduce strain upon the wrists.

A touch or keyless keyboard will help reduce the pressure applied when typing, therefore reduce the symptoms of the condition.

The computer mouse and keyboard should be held as close as possible to prevent large shoulder movements.

The handles of tools, such as screwdrivers and paintbrushes, should be designed so that worker's grip is distributed across the thumb and little finger, spreading the force and reducing the strain upon the wrist.

Carpal Tunnel Statistics & Facts

It is estimated that 3 in 100 men suffer from the condition whilst the rate is 5 in 100 for women.

A quarter of people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome have close relatives, either a sibling or parent, who are also afflicted by the condition.

As many as 15% of the people in the meat, poultry, and fish packing industries may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many companies now recognize the impact the workplace has when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome. A large survey reported that 84% of businesses were making some positive changes to prevent repetitive strain injuries.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression disorder of the upper extremity.

Carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. Almost half of the carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of work loss.

Musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are among the most prevalent medical conditions in the U.S., affecting 7% of the population.

849,000 new cases of carpal tunnel syndrome occurred in 1994.

Approximately 260,000 carpal tunnel release operations are performed each year, with 47% of the cases considered to be work related.

A report by NIOSH revealed that more than 50% of all food cashiers, (jobs predominantly held by women), suffered some degree of carpal tunnel syndrome and other forms of repetitive strain injuries as a result of the physical demands of scanning products at high speed.

The U.S. Department of Labor has concluded that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the "chief occupational hazard of the 90's"-disabling workers in epidemic proportions.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects over 8-million Americans.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the #1 reported medical problem, accounting for about 50% of all work-related injuries.

Presently, 25% of all computer operators have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, with estimates that by the year 2000, 50% of the entire workforce may be affected.

Only 23% of all Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patients were able to return to their previous professions following surgery.

Up to 36% of all Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patients require unlimited medical treatment.

Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the second most common type of surgery, with well over 230,000 procedures performed annually.

Carpal tunnel surgery has about a 57% failure rate following patients from 1-day to 6-years. At least one of the following symptoms re-occurred during this time: Pain, Numbness, Tingling sensations.



Carpal Tunnel Treatment Remedies plus




The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling, weakness, and other problems in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist.

The median nerve and several tendons run from your forearm to your hand through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel camera.gif.

The median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers (not your little finger).

Pressure on the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome.

This pressure can come from swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

One of the most prominent symptoms that may indicate carpal tunnel is a tingling sensation in the fingers and/or thumbs.

Numbness may signal a carpal tunnel problem. This is characterized by a loss of feeling and sensation at the tips of the fingers and may be localized or generalized across the whole hand.

Carpal tunnel can sometimes be a rather painful condition to live with.

Having carpel tunnel syndrome may affect your sense of touch. In this instance, you may realize that you are less likely to notice something touching certain areas or it feels odd when you pick up objects.

Symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome will often worsen following repeated use of the affected hand/s. Repetitive actions are especially damaging and can cause a great deal of increased discomfort.

Carpal Tunnel Causes

All the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are caused by a little nerve within the wrist, the median nerve, becoming compressed which affects its function. The median nerve sends messages from the hand to the brain to provide your sense of touch, allowing you to interpret exactly how something feels.

Carpal tunnel may be secondary to another inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis. This is a condition where the joints become inflamed and painful, a consequence of being attacked by the body’s own immune system.

Obesity, especially in young people, is a possible cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is incredibly common during pregnancy, although the exact reasons why this occurs are unclear. Usually, the condition diminishes once the baby has been born.

It is a myth that typing all day causes carpal tunnel syndrome. It is in fact believed to be less common in people who type all day compared to those who carry out more strenuous tasks, such as manual labor.

Carpal Tunnel Treatment

It is vital to begin treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome as soon as possible. This is to prevent any further damage or compression of the nerve that could worsen the condition or make it permanent in nature.

Initial treatments usually entail resting the affected hand/s for a minimum period of 2 weeks, avoiding anything that may exacerbate the problem.

To reduce inflammation, ice packs can be applied which has been proven is effective in reducing swelling. Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprophen or aspirin, may help alleviate some of the pressure on the nerve by reducing the inflammation.

Multiple types of carpal tunnel release surgery exist. Open release surgery is the traditional method involving a small incision in the wrist that allows the surgeon to cut the carpal ligament and enlarge the tunnel.

Other possible treatments include low-level laser therapy and botox, but their effectiveness has yet to be properly studied.



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