Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to a pinched nerve in the wrist. It’s caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs the length of the arm, through a passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel and ends in the hand. When pressure builds up in this tunnel the nerve is compressed.
Increased pressure and subsequent nerve compression results from any of the following;
- Swelling of the lining of the tendons in the wrist, tenosynovitis
- Joint dislocations
- Fluid retention during pregnancy
Thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can also be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and Symptoms of this condition can include:
- Pain at the wrist and fingers
- Numbness with tingling sensations in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers
- Weak grip
- Occasional clumsiness
- Tendency to drop things
At first, symptoms come and go, but as the condition worsens, symptoms may become constant. Pain may extend to the arm all the way to the shoulder. Over time, if untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome causes the muscles on the thumb side of the hand to waste away (atrophy).
Commonly, the symptoms are felt at night but may also manifest during daily activities such as driving or reading a newspaper. In severe cases, sensation and strength of the hand may be permanently lost.
The following commonly precede onset of the condition or its symptoms;
- Repetitive motions, like typing or any motions of the wrist that you do over and over. This is especially true of actions when your hands are lower than your wrist.
- Conditions like hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
Could you have carpal tunnel syndrome? Find out below
Phalen’s sign test.
Hold your arms out in front of you and then flex (bend) your wrists, letting your hands hang down for about 60 seconds. If you feel tingling, numbness, or pain in the fingers within 60 seconds, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Surgery Hand splint
a) Surgery- Carpal tunnel release
Surgery would be appropriate if the symptoms are severe or don’t respond to other treatments. The goal of surgery is to relieve pressure by cutting the ligament pressing on the median nerve. Discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery with your surgeon in advance.
b) Lifestyle and home remedies
These steps may provide temporary symptom relief:
- Take short breaks from repetitive activities involving the use of the hands.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Rotate your wrists and stretch your palms and fingers.
- Take a pain reliever on prescription.
- Wear a wrist splint at night.
- Avoid sleeping on the hands
By Medical Advisory team