The carpal tunnel is the passageway on the palmar side of the wrist that connects the forearm to the middle compartment of the deep plane of the palm. The nerve, which controls movement and sensation of the thumb and first three fingers, goes through this passage. When this area starts to hurt, of the movements are limited, one can doubt of having carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pain and Tingling
The syndrome starts developing slowly. It first occurs at night of when you wake up in the morning. The sensation is similar to ’needles and pins’. The same feeling can occur during the day, usually when you try grabbing things with your hand.
As the condition progresses, the severe weakness occur, making it difficult to grasp objects or make a fist. Also, precise manual work may be difficult, like buttoning and unbuttoning the shirt and similar.
This condition can lead to numbness in the hands. Patients experience swollen fingers sensations, even though there is no swelling.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Because of the anatomy of the carpal tunnel, whenever there is inflammation or swelling, the pain and discomfort occurs. It is not always only one cause, but the combination of many. Symptoms may be present in one or both hands, but usually symptoms develop in the dominant hand first.
Who gets carpal tunnel syndrome?
Women are 3 times more prone to getting this condition. Certain conditions can also increase your risk. These include:
- Diabetes, gout, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Sprain or fracture of the wrist
Could your job lead to this condition?
There is a belief a typing oriented jobs can lead to developing this disorder, but on the other side, there are opinions telling the assembly line workers are 3 times more prone to this condition than data-entry personnel. In addition, a study concluded heavy computer use -up to seven hours a day, did not lead to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Happens Without Treatment?
In the beginning, the symptoms come and go, but as the condition progresses, the symptoms become constant and may affect the arm and shoulder. If not treated, it can eventually lead to muscle atrophy. Even when treated, strength and sensation may never be completely restored.
Carpal Tunnel or Something Else?
Similar symptoms may lead us to think we have this condition:
- Injury to a muscle, ligament, or tendon
- Arthritis of the thumb or wrist
- Nerve problems such as diabetic neuropathy
Your doctor will do tests to rule out other health conditions.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Your doctor will conduct several tests to diagnose this condition: the Tinel test, the Phalen test, and similar.