Examining the hand of a senior patient with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is like a passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments, passing by the wrist and ending in the palm of the hand. 

Because of the pressure in the nerve it causes a lot of pain in the side of your hand. Some other symptoms are numbness, weakness and tingling in the hand, fingers and arm. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Those symptoms usually start gradually, and you may notice that your thumb, index, middle are affected by tingling or numbness, and a sensation like an electric shock. The weakness sensation is more noticeable when you start to drop objects, and it can happen because of the numbness in the hand or the thumbs’ nerves pinching. 

There are a few more symptoms that you can notice, such as: 

  • Swelling in fingers and/or in hands;
  • Wrist pain;
  • Difficulty in identifying heat and cold;
  • Waking up at night with a lot of pain. 

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome diagnosed?

Usually the carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by a doctor after the symptoms and signs are evaluated. A physical exam is also done to verify the wrist movement and the scale and intensity of pain the patient is suffering from. 

Is important to see your health care provider to start treatment as soon as possible, to recover your quality of life and prevent permanent nerve and muscle damage. 

Also x-rays of the wrist can be effective to determine if there’s limited wrist motion. Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction exams to see how the median nerve is working. 

Causes and risk factors

The median nerve runs from the forearm through the carpal tunnel, a small passageway from the wrist to the hand. Anything that irritates or squeezes the median nerve can help to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, or a wrist fracture that can narrow even more the carpal tunnel, or even just swelling and inflammation. 

But many times, there’s not just one cause for carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s a lot of risk factors combined that cause this condition. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome risk factors

  • Anatomic factors

Some people, especially women, have a smaller carpal tunnel and are more likely to develop the syndrome. Such as wrist fractures or dislocations can deforme the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve.

Smaller carpal tunnels can run in families, so heredity is a risk factor. If someone in your family has carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s best if you see a health provider to prevent developing the syndrome. 

  • Medical conditions 

Some medical conditions, like chronic illness (such as diabetes), can increase the risk of nerve damage. 

Some inflammatory conditions can also affect the lining around the tendons and put pressure in the median nerve. 

Menopause, thyroid disorders and kidney failure may incrise the chances to develop carpal tunnel disease. 

  • Work

There are some types of work, like the ones that require a lot of repetitive and prolonged wrist flexing and moving can pressure the nerve or worsen the pre-existing nerve damage. High-force, long-term use, extreme motions and vibrantions can worsen the pain. 

Computer use can also help, by repetitive movement, develop the carpal tunnel syndrome. 

How to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

There’s not proven strategy to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, but you can keep a healthy lifestyle to minimize stress in your hands and wrists by: 

  • Reducing your force and making your life easier. If you work with a keyboard, for example, hit the keys gently. 
  • Taking breaks to stretch and bend hands and wrists, alternate tasks, especially if you have to put a great amount of force and pressure in your wrists. 
  • Improving your posture by rolling shoulders backwards, to relieve the nerves in the shoulders muscles and neck. 
  • Keeping your hands warm and preventing hand pain and stiffness. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatments

There’s not only one treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, and you should see a physical therapist or a chiropractor to help you with the pain. 

But using wristbands, hot water compresses and medicines (like anti-inflammatory pain relievers) and cortisone injections can help you if you are in acute pain. 

If you work using a computer, make sure that your chair is properly placed, your keyboard and mouse are adjusted to your use. 

The carpal tunnel syndrome can be an indicator for other diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, and the best treatment is to investigate the cause in depth, to avoid episodes of pain.

If you are looking for a qualified team to help you with your pain, book an appointment with one of our specialized doctors that will help change your quality of life! 

Broadway Chiropractic and Wellness