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Orthopedics and Traumatology

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve is compressed at the wrist. The syndrome can appear with repetition of movements, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, fractures and many other conditions.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most common hand problems that affect people is the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Making lifestyle changes or using splints in the affected area is a good treatment; surgery is another option for more advanced problems.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the space in the wrist is compressed, putting pressure on the median nerve and tendons located inside the Carpal Tunnel. It is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist.

What is the Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal Tunnel is a narrow channel in the wrist that allows the median nerve and tendons to connect to the hand and forearm.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

The symptoms of carpal tunnel are progressive, and as the syndrome gets worse, the symptoms become more constant:

  • Numbness or Tingling: Except for the little finger, all fingers are affected by this tingling/numbness. The sensation may run from the wrist to the arm.
  • Weakness in the hand
  • Decreased sensation in the fingertips
  • Burning and itching of the palm and thumb or index finger
  • Problems holding things
  • Difficulty manipulating small objects, holding a book, writing, or using the computer keyboard

Causes of Carpal Tunnel

When the median nerve is compressed by the narrowing of space in the wrist, it causes carpal tunnel syndrome. Anything that presses on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space can cause this syndrome. For example:

  • Inflammation caused by rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Wrist fracture 
  • Writing on a computer or using a mouse for extended periods
  • Repetitive wrist movements while working
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Playing certain sports
  • Extreme wrist movements

Usually, there is no single cause for carpal tunnel syndrome; instead, it is a combination of risk factors that trigger it over time.

Risk Factors of Carpal Tunnel

Although many of the following risk factors do not directly cause carpal tunnel syndrome, they may increase the risk of median nerve damage. Some of the most common are
  • Gender: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome tends to occur more commonly in women, possibly because the tunnel area is slightly smaller in women than in men
  • Anatomical Factors
  • Medications-some medications related to the treatment of breast cancer are associated with this syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Pregnancy
  • Fluid retention: this can increase pressure in the carpal tunnel, irritating the median nerve
  • Workplace factors: those jobs requiring performing the same repetitive movements with the arm, hand or wrist repeatedly or using vibrating machines, especially if these jobs are performed in cold environments.

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel

While it is true that there is no single way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, making some lifestyle changes to minimize stress on the nerves in your hand can be beneficial, for example:

  • Take frequent short breaks: While working, take short breaks to stretch and flex your hand and wrist if possible gently
  • Posture: Incorrect posture compresses the nerves in the neck, also affecting the wrists, hands, and fingers
  • Hand position: do not bend your wrist excessively down or up, maintain a relaxed and balanced position
  • Pay attention to your computer mouse: make sure your mouse is comfortable and not straining your wrist
  • Keep your hands warm
  • Use a splint or brace to keep your wrist in a neutral position

Consult an Orthopedic and Traumalogy specialist if you have symptoms of carpal tunnel that interfere with your daily activities. If given optimal treatment in time, permanent damage to the nerves and muscles can be avoided.

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