Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is known as a progressive neurological disorder that causes numbness, pain, and tingling in the arms and hands. Carpal tunnel will occur when the hand’s median nerve gets compressed or squeezed. The condition usually worsens over time if you don’t get treatment. Early diagnosis can help manage the condition and symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome has no cure. Treatment options available help minimize nerve damage. Mostly, surgery is the best option to relieve the pressure on the nerve. It’s what most doctors will recommend unless the disease has progressed too much. You are considered at increased risk of developing the disorder if you are:
- Experience repeat wrist motions like when you are typing
- You already have underlying conditions like obesity, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis
Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome falls into three broad categories. They include:
Mild Stage CTS
This is the earliest stage of the disease. If you have mild stage CTS, symptoms will include numbness and tingling in the fingers or hands. Most of the time, the fingers will be the first to feel numb. At this stage, patients describe feeling like thousands of needles are piercing them. Sometimes this numbness can travel to the rest of the arm. Symptoms at this stage occur when you are holding something like a phone or steering wheel.
Moderate Stage CTS
The median nerve keeps getting damaged as the tendons swell even more. You know your CTS is in the mild stage if symptoms begin appearing even during the day when you are at rest. At this stage, you may also lose sensation at your fingertips.
Severe Stage CTS
At this stage, the condition has worsened to the extent that you are in severe pain during the daytime and at night. In the severe stage, CTS is no longer just a nuisance but a condition that affects the quality of your life. While surgery can help, chances of that succeeding are low.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms and Signs
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and signs of Carpal Tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness, itching, tingling, and a burning sensation in your thumb, index finger, middle fingers, or the palm
- Weakness that affects the hand such that you have difficulties holding things like your phone
- A shocking feeling that moves into the fingers
- A tingling feeling that moves up the arm
If you have carpal syndrome symptoms or signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the first thing you might notice is that your fingers “fall asleep” a lot at the night. You might even wake up with tingling and numbness that runs to the shoulder. If the disease has progressed, symptoms may flare up even during the day. In the early stages, shaking the hand usually relieves the numbness. But as the disease progresses, this doesn’t help.
In the late stages after picking up on signs of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, you may lose the functioning of your arm because your grip strength is already lost. This happens when the muscles in the hands shrink, resulting in muscle cramping and pain.
Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome, see a doctor immediately. Getting a Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can prevent the disease from progressing. The doctor will also ask you to flex your arms. After a completed physical exam, the doctor will order more tests. To get a diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome you may need to do the following:
Imaging tests: MRI, X-rays, and ultrasounds help assess the condition of the tissues and bones in the hands.
Electromyogram: The doctor uses a thin electrode to insert into a muscle during the test. The electrode measures the electrical activity in the muscles.
Nerve conduction tests: The tests use electrodes the doctor tapes to your hand. They measure the electrical signals in the nerves of your arm and hand.
How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome progresses as the years go by. If treatment isn’t administered, you might end up losing the functioning of your hand. The treatment plan put in place will depend on the symptoms you present and how far the disease has progressed. If you are wondering about How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome keep reading!
Making lifestyle changes: This is the first course of action, especially if your work involves repetitive motion of the hands. Most of the time, this repetitive motion is what causes symptoms. Symptoms should clear when you stop or slow down on the activity causing them.
Exercise: Strength and stretching exercises can help relieve symptoms of the carpal syndrome. You might also consider engaging in nerve gliding exercises. Such workouts can help the nerves function better.
Immobilization: The doctor will ask you to wear a splint to minimize movement of the wrist and lessen pressure applied on the nerves. A splint may need ot be worn at night to get rid of the tingling feeling so that you can sleep better.
Medications: The doctor will prescribe steroid shots and anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications help minimize swelling and slow down disease progression.
Surgery: This is the last option if lifestyle changes, exercise, and medications don’t work. The surgery, referred to as carpal tunnel release, helps increase the tunnel’s size to ease pressure on the nerve.
How to Live With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are no proven ways of preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. All you can do is find ways of minimizing the stress on your wrists and hands. And if you are wondering about How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome these tips could help as well!
- Try and reduce the force you apply while working and relax the grip. If, for instance, you work the cash register, hitting the keys softly can help.
- Take breaks now and then to relax your wrists and hands. Also, try alternating between different tasks from time to time.
- Maintain good form by avoiding bending the wrist down or up. Keep the keyboard slightly lower or at elbow level if you are typing.
- Work on improving your posture. Exercises like rolling the shoulders forward and compressing the nerves in the neck can help.
- If you use a computer mouse, get one that offers a comfortable grip that doesn’t strain the wrist.
- Ensure your hands are kept warm when working in a cold or freezing environment.
- How can I tell if I have carpal tunnel and not something else? Carpal tunnel syndrome presents unique symptoms. Go to the hospital if you experience tingling, pain, or lose sensation in one or all first fingers. The little finger is not affected by Carpal Tunnel because it’s a different nerve that controls it.
- Carpal Tunnel Risk Factors: Most of the time, people who get carpal tunnel engage in repetitive motions of the wrist or finger. It’s common among musicians, factory workers, artists, manual workers, and athletes.
- How Do I Prevent an Occurrence? Change your work environment by taking short breaks and minimizing strenuous wrist activities. In addition, if the disease is due to conditions like diabetes or arthritis, managing them should prevent a recurrence.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!