The carpal tunnel is a space in your forearm and wrist that guards the median nerve, or a major branch of your nerve system, as it runs through your arm and down into your hand. This nerve controls your thumb, fore and middle finger and is essential to your basic hand function. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the ligaments and muscles surrounding the nerve become swollen and squeeze the median nerve, causing a myriad of problems.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
The symptoms of carpal tunnel can be misleading. For example, many patients report a sense of swelling in their fingers, though no visible swelling is apparent. There can also be a tingling or burning feeling in the palm or the first three fingers of the hand, even though there is no external injury.
As time goes on, the person suffering from carpal tunnel will find their hand’s tingle throughout the day. They may be unable to grip things with a tight grasp. Everyday tasks such as stirring, typing, or texting become more difficult as the base of the thumb becomes more damaged. In the worst case, an individual may be unable to tell the difference between hot and cold temperatures.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Carpal Tunnel?
You are at the highest risk of getting a case of carpal tunnel if you are female because the area is smaller.
Conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypothyroidism are also known to cause swelling of the median nerve.
Pregnancy, obesity, and menopause also place you at risk for carpal tunnel.
Assembly line work, working with vibrating tools and other careers involving prolonged repetitive flexing of the wrist can affect the median nerve.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel
Due to the pain and severity of this problem, surgery is often necessary for those suffering from the syndrome. The carpal tunnel is cut open to allow the tissue to heal and give the nerve some release from the pressure.
More conservative treatments include exercises that involve the hands and wrists such as weightlifting or yoga, wearing wrist splints to keep the wrist from bending forward, ultrasound therapy and taking anti-inflammatory medications or steroids to reduce swelling.
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