Frequently Asked Questions: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that experts are able to treat successfully, however it’s still unknown as to which activities put an individual at risk. If you or a loved one have trouble using your hands, it is worth a visit to the doctor to learn about possible treatments and preventative measures.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The condition is not a problem with the nerve itself, but rather the area the nerve travels through from the forearm to the center of the palm, called the carpal tunnel. There are many factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, but the root cause is a restricted pathway that compresses the median nerve. Wrist injuries, such as severe sprains or fractures, can increase the chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, the trauma that causes swelling can shift the substructures in the wrist and narrow the pathway of the median nerve. Conditions that affect the endocrine system, such as an underperforming thyroid gland or an overactive pituitary gland, can also contribute to developing this condition. Rheumatoid arthritis is another culprit that increases signs and symptoms, as is a person?s daily activities. Physical stress on the wrist during work, such as heavy use of vibrating tools, can cause symptoms. However, in most cases, there is more than one contributing factor.

If you do decide to seek consultation or treatment, one such clinic for this syndrome to look out for is Hand Surgery Associates, who specialises in Carpal tunnel surgery with over 40 years of combined experience. They have a wide range of services available, from emergency treatment to hand therapy. If you should need consultation for hand surgery, they are the place to look to.

 

Am I at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?

Both men and women develop carpal tunnel syndrome, and symptoms usually develop in the dominant hand. However, the condition is three times more likely in women, who may retain fluid during pregnancy or menopause, and have smaller carpal tunnels than their male counterparts. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or another metabolic disorder, it can make your nerves more vulnerable to being compressed in the tunnel. Overall, there are no clear patterns that put individuals at a higher risk, but carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be more common in people who have careers that require heavy use of the hands. This includes but is not limited to manufacturing, cleaning, and meat processing. Workers in these fields are three times more likely than others to develop carpel tunnel syndrome.

How do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

Symptoms develop over time, and can include sensations of itching, burning, or tingling in the palm, fingers, thumb, and sometimes the wrist. People who suffer from these symptoms describe an unusual feeling of swelling and malaise of the fingers, even though visually, everything seems to be normal. The sense of pressure usually first appears at night in those who sleep with bent wrists. They may wake up with the urge to shake their hands to alleviate the sensation. As the syndrome develops, pains persist throughout the day, and can cause weakness in the hands. This makes it difficult to grab objects, press down with the fingers, and can result in losing muscle at the base of the thumb if the condition goes untreated. In severe cases, carpal tunnel surgery is necessary.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome preventable?

Nothing guarantees you won’t develop carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are ways you can reduce the risk of developing symptoms of this condition. Focus on proper wrist positions and good posture while working with your hands, and take the time to stretch before long periods of wrist activity. You can try to keep your hands warm to increase their flexibility by wearing gloves. Take the time to adjust equipment that you use to fit your wrist’s natural positioning, and don?t be afraid to take breaks from strenuous activities.