Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common injury that many people suffer from. You should never self-diagnose, however, and if you feel like you may be suffering from such an injury, it’s best to see your doctor to receive confirmation and set up a treatment plan. It’s a good idea to be familiar with carpal tunnel injuries, especially if you are at risk of suffering from one. That way, you’ll be able to recognize the possibility so you can take the appropriate steps to take care of the injury. Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with a carpal tunnel injury, you should know all you can about it so you’re educated in such a way that you heal rather than making the problem worse. So, here’s a fact sheet that will help you every step of the way.
How do Carpal Tunnel Injuries Occur?
A carpal tunnel injury happens when the nerve that runs between your elbow and hand is compressed in the wrist region. The actual carpal tunnel is a narrow area made of bones and ligaments that can be found at the base of your hand. In the area are the tendons that control finger movement. When this happens, you will experience a set of symptoms that are often the first sign that there’s a problem and that you should see your doctor.
What are the Symptoms?
In most cases, symptoms of an injury to the carpal tunnel area will begin gradually and get worse as time goes by. In the beginning, you may notice burning, tingling or numbness that steadily becomes worse and more debilitating. Some people say that they feel a swelling in their fingers that isn’t actually there. Most often the symptoms appear at night, but as the condition worsens, the symptoms may also appear during the day. As time goes by, grip strength can be hindered and the muscles in certain parts of the hands may begin to atrophy.
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Caused?
Like many health conditions, carpal tunnel can be caused by several things and figuring out the cause can often help your doctor create the right treatment plan for you. Usually, these factors compress the area, interfering with nerve function, rather than actually harming the nerve itself. It can be as a result of an impact injury or trauma to the wrist, such as a fracture or sprain. The injury may also be a result of problems with your pituitary or thyroid glands or because you have rheumatoid arthritis. Many people experience a carpal tunnel issue due to repeated stress in the wrist area, such as when using vibrating machinery or performing the same motion repeatedly. Many people with the condition can blame the workplace, while others may be able to chalk it up to hormonal changes, a cyst or tumor. In any case, medical treatment is necessary and if work is to blame, you will need to file a worker’s compensation claim to cover the costs of treatment.
What Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are Available?
The first thing that is often done to treat carpal tunnel is to wear a brace or splint at night. In the early stages, this can be an effective way to ease the pressure on the wrist and help the condition resolve or be alleviated to some degree. Of course, trying to avoid the activities or movements that exacerbate the condition is always recommended if at all possible. Over the counter pain medications can help alleviate swelling and pain in the area, while certain prescription drugs can help relieve the pressure on the nerves and treat the symptoms. Yoga is an alternative form of treatment that many people find success using. Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments are also effective in some cases. Surgery is a last resort treatment option that involves cutting the carpal ligament to enlarge the size of the carpal tunnel and restore function to the hand.
How Can the Problem be prevented?
People who are at risk of carpal tunnel symptoms due to their work can help prevent the condition by taking breaks often to allow the tendons, ligaments and muscles to rest. Stretching can also keep the area in top working order and cut back on the risk of the narrowing that leads to symptoms. Choosing ergonomic work tools is another easy way to help reduce your risk. Seeing your doctor regularly can also help you recognize the problem early so that you can nip it in the bud and treat the problem before it interferes with normal daily function.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is fairly common, but doesn’t have to interfere with your life or cause you discomfort or pain. Work closely with your doctor to be sure that you can live a good quality of life, even if you do end up with a carpal tunnel injuries.