Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a medical condition in which there is pressure on the median nerve (the nerve that runs from your forearm through a passageway in your wrist to your hand). The pressure causes tingling and numbness in your hands. 

The median nerve is located within the carpal tunnel and functions to control movement and provide sensation to all the fingers except the little finger.

Generally, carpal tunnel syndrome can occur as an effect of pregnancy, disease, and obesity. The symptoms can be relieved by getting adequate rest.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the carpal tunnel swells and presses on one of the median nerves. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by:

  • Being overweight.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Activities involving bending or flexing the wrist continuously, such as typing. 
  • Effects of other diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis.
  • Family history of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Past wrist injury 

Apart from the factors above, carpal tunnel syndrome also has the potential to occur in:

  • Women. This is because women have smaller carpal tunnels.
  • A member from the same family.
  • Workers who continuously use their wrists to work

There are higher risk groups of carpal tunnel syndrome, including: 

  • People with a family history of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Complications or new diseases from pre-existing diseases. Complications can be due to diabetes, hyperthyroidism, obesity, or kidney failure.
  • Pregnant women

When to See a Doctor for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

To diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, a neurologist will tap on the patient’s wrist. This Tinel’s test is to check for symptoms. Diagnosis can also be done through:

  • Imaging test, which consists of X-Ray or MRI. This test works to observe the condition of the bones and nerves in the wrist.
  • Electromyography (EMG), a technique for evaluating muscle and nerve function by recording the electrical activity generated by the muscles

After the doctor confirms carpal tunnel syndrome, you will be provided a splint for your wrist.

If a wrist splint is not effective for treating carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will recommend injecting steroids into your wrist. These injections will help relieve swelling in the nerves.

However, steroids are not always the main solution to treat the disease. The effects of steroids only last for a few months. 

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Several common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • A burning sensation, tingling, itching, or numbness in the wrist and around the fingers.
  • Difficulty holding objects using hands.
  • Shock sensation traveling up from your wrist to your fingers
  • Tingling sensation in the arm

In general, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome will develop at certain times, and may worsen at night. In the morning, you may experience tingling and itching from your wrist to  your arms. The position of your wrist during sleep can be one factor that determines carpal tunnel pressure.

Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated at home by:

  • Using a wrist splint.
  • Stop doing activities that may trigger the symptoms, such as typing in the same position over and over, playing a musical instrument, and more.
  • Taking painkillers or pain relievers.
  • Doing hand exercises, such as stretching or other wrist-strengthening sports activities

If the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are already acute, the doctor will advise the patient to undergo surgery. This operation will only be performed if self-healing efforts at home are not successful.

Carpal tunnel syndrome generally resolves on its own after a few months, especially in pregnant women. However, if the symptoms do not improve, the doctor may recommend surgery as treatment.

The surgery will be handled by an orthopaedic surgeon. During the surgery, your wrist will be injected to numb the wrist.  The surgeon will then create a small incision around the wrist and cut the carpal tunnel to heal swelling of the median nerve.

After surgery, you will be able to use your wrist normally within a month.

Treatment Cost for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The cost for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment varies – depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms experienced.

For more information regarding the estimated costs of carpal tunnel syndrome treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Since carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by increased pressure on your wrist, there are numerous preventive measures you can undertake, including:

  • Perform frequent hand stretches. Simple wrist stretches can be done by making a fist and then pointing your fingers up. You can do this repeatedly up to 5-10 times. You can also turn and bend your wrist periodically. 
  • Stay warm. When you are getting cold, the pain and tingling may get worse. Pay attention to the warmth around the wrist. You can do this by using fingerless gloves. Wear gloves to keep your hands warm.
  • Get used to touching objects more gently. You may not realize that you have been touching objects in an aggressive manner or with a heavy pressure. To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, make it a habit to use your fingers and wrist more gently. 

Moreover, you should avoid staying in the same position over and over. Bending your wrist for a long time or sleeping with your wrist bent can trigger the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

To avoid getting carpal tunnel syndrome when sleeping, keep your wrist in a straight, neutral position.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Among numerous home remedies to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, you can start with changing your lifestyle. Other remedies include: 

  • Consume your medications as prescribed by the doctor
  • Remove the splint on your wrist during the day, then practice light wrist exercises or stretches to keep it functioning properly.
  • Avoid doing activities that may trigger carpal tunnel syndrome.

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