Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand and arm due to compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of bones and ligaments that protects the median nerve and tendons that control movement in the hand and fingers.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) usually develop gradually and may include:
These symptoms are typically localized to the thumb, index, and middle fingers and can sometimes extend to the ring and little fingers. The symptoms may be mild at first, but they can worsen over time and may affect daily activities.
Some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome:
Repetitive Hand and Wrist Movements: Activities that require repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, such as typing, playing a musical instrument, and assembly line work, can lead to CTS.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, and obesity may increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pregnancy: The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling and inflammation, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Wrist Injuries: Fractures or sprains of the wrist can cause swelling and inflammation, putting pressure on the median nerve.
Genetics: Some people may be more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome due to their genetic makeup.
Age and Gender: Women and older individuals are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Certain Occupations: People who work in jobs that require repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, such as data entry or meatpacking, are at a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Certain Hobbies: Certain hobbies that require repetitive hand and wrist movements, such as knitting and gardening, may increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the condition and may include rest, wrist splinting, medications, physical therapy, surgery, or alternative therapies.
Here are some common treatments:
Rest: Resting the affected hand and wrist and avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
Wrist Splinting: Wearing a wrist splint can help keep the wrist in a neutral position, reducing pressure on the median nerve and alleviating symptoms.
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation.
Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can teach exercises to help strengthen the hand and wrist and improve flexibility.
Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the median nerve. During the surgery, the transverse carpal ligament is cut to relieve pressure on the nerve.
Alternative Therapies: Some people find relief from carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms through acupuncture, yoga, or chiropractic adjustments.