Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Causes and Symptoms
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common affliction that causes pain and tingling in the hand due to unusual pressure being placed on the median nerve in the wrist. Carpal tunnel is commonly thought of as a repetitive stress injury, often brought on by typing or using a desk for long periods of time. However, there are actually a number of different causes for carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have a severe case of carpal tunnel, there will be a profound impact on your day to day life and physical therapy may be needed in order to improve the condition and relieve the pain.
As mentioned above, repetitive stress is one possible cause of carpal tunnel. If you do work where your hands are bent lower than your wrists for extending periods of time, you can cause swelling that will make the carpal tunnel smaller and exert pressure on the median nerve. Some of the other causes of carpal tunnel include pregnancy, obesity, smoking, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Also, a traumatic wrist injury could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome later on if the injury doesn’t heal properly or completely.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
Patients who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome often being with symptoms of tingling or numbness in their fingers. The condition can affect one or both of your hands. The little finger on each hand is rarely affected by carpal tunnel, so discomfort or problems with your thumb and first three fingers is a good indication of carpal tunnel developing. As the problem gets worse, the tingling may turn into pain and you might start to find your hand to be weaker than it once was. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms tend to be worse in the night time than during the day, so that is another sign to pay attention to.
If you only experience mild symptoms of carpal tunnel, basic treatments may be enough to correct the problem. You should start by ceasing all activities that may be contributing to the problem. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs will also help by reducing swelling in the carpal tunnel itself. Sleeping with your wrist in a splint is a good way to give your wrist the rest it needs to help relieve pressure on the nerve. More serious cases of carpal tunnel can require surgical correction to relieve symptoms and allow the patient get back to full function without pain in their wrist or hands.
Physical therapy is a very important tool when dealing with carpal tunnel. Preventative treatment to stop the condition from getting worse is a wise idea to avoid ending up in surgery for this condition. Also, for patients that have already undergone surgery, physical therapy can help them regain the strength and feeling they need in their hands to get back to life as usual. Treatments like basic stretching and range of motion exercises are useful in rebuilding the total function of the hand as it was before the carpal tunnel symptoms began to appear. If you have early signs of carpal tunnel, be sure to work with a physical therapist to prevent the condition from getting worse and put you back on track to good hand health.