FAQ’s on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand through which the median nerve passes. CTS (Carpal tunnel syndrome) is a condition in which the median nerve becomes compressed due to inflammation of these ligaments and this in turn causes pain in the hand that radiates up the arm. The condition also causes weakness and numbness in the hand and arm and impaired mobility and dexterity of the hand.
Who is susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome and how do you become affected?
Carpal tunnel syndrome only affects adults and women are the most commonly affected, being 75% more likely than men to be affected. The dominant hand is usually affected first or worse and the condition is caused by conditions such as diabetes due to the swelling that often occurs.
The condition can also occur due to repetitive use such as persons that work assembly lines or persons that use keyboards frequently, although the assembly line worker is three times more likely to be affected than a data entry worker. Injury can also cause the condition or inflammatory disorders (The effects of diabetes on symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome treated with mini-open surgery. 2013). Many younger people are being affected by CTS due to computer use (Carpal tunnel syndrome in young adults–an ultrasonographic and neurophysiological study).
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include burning, itching, and tingling sensations often accompanied by numbness and pain in the palm and fingers of the affected hand, especially in the thumb and middle finger. Persons affected by carpal tunnel syndrome may wake with their hands feeling stiff and may have difficulty holding and grasping objects as well as have difficulty performing delicate tasks with their hands.
Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome
It is imperative that correct diagnosis occurs early on to prevent permanent damage to the median nerve. Your physician will first examine your neck, shoulders, arms and hands to first determine if your condition is being caused by normal daily activity of whether it is actually carpal tunnel syndrome.
Further examination of the hand and wrist for inflammation, tenderness, heat, or discoloration of the skin should be performed as well as sensation testing of the fingers. The hand should be tested for overall strength and dexterity and x-rays can be performed to determine whether there are fractures or if arthritis may be the cause of your ailment.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome
- Underlying causes such as arthritis, injury or diabetes should be treated first, after which treatment will begin with resting the hand immobilizing it with a splint and applying ice packs to reduce swelling.
- NSAIDS may be used to treat the swelling an inflammation as well, and corticosteroids may be used either orally or by injection.
- Physical therapy is another form of non-surgical treatment, it is used to stretch and strengthen the hand and wrist. Physical therapy is performed under professional supervision after the symptoms have abated in order to prevent further susceptibility to the condition.
- A new treatment has been introduced with a 96% success rate for inflammatory response and relief of ischemia and swelling of the nerve fibers, electroacupuncture (Efficacy observation of carpal tunnel syndrome treated with electroacupuncture, 2014).
- The carpal tunnel release procedure is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States; this is usually performed if symptoms have not subsided after a period of about six months.
- The open release procedure is performed by severing the band of tissues around the wrist in order to open the carpal tunnel to help relieve the pressure being exerted on the median nerve.
- Endoscopic surgery involves a more precise incision or incisions by use of a small camera being inserted into the carpal tunnel to allow for precise control of the incision placement. This procedure is less invasive and has a faster recovery time than open release (Endoscopic carpaltunnel release.2014).
Success of these surgical procedures is typically high, and the patient may gain instant relief afterwards but it will still take several weeks to months to completely heal after the surgery (Effectiveness and safety of endoscopic versus open carpaltunnel decompression.2014). Risks of the procedure are generally low but there is always a risk of infection or tissue or nerve damage. The majority of patients that receive one of these procedures can expect a full recovery. Discuss with your doctor the best treatment for you.