We’ve all heard about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) all our lives, and most of us realize it has something to do with painful wrists.
But why does it happen, really? And is there a way to prevent it?
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The general public tends to speak about it casually, but for people who are experiencing carpal tunnel, it can mean extreme pain.
In general terms, CTS is a pinched nerve in the wrist. The phrase carpal tunnel itself refers to a space in the wrist where nine tendons and the median nerve pass from the arm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of pressure and swelling in this tunnel, which in turn increases pressure to the median nerve, located at the wrist.
Signs of CTS include tingling, numbness, a weaker grip, a tendency to drop things, and pain in the hand, fingers, and arm.
Because a combination of factors may be involved, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of CTS in each case. Some of these factors may include rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid conditions, pregnancy, diabetes, high blood pressure, and prior injuries.
Activities that can increase carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include improper use of computer keyboards, regular use of power tools or hand tools, driving a motorcycle, and repeated use of your wrist, such as playing a violin or guitar.
How to Prevent It
Without a definite cause, it can be challenging to completely prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. But you can definitely try to be proactive by using:
- Proper posture when typing.
- Adjusting sitting height to allow for a natural angle to the wrist.
- Ergonomic keyboards.
- Braces when participating in activities that strain your wrists, such as bowling.
- Proper protection as possible if you work in the manufacturing, automobile, assembly line, or construction industry.
You should also remember to give your wrists a break from whatever you are doing for a few minutes every couple of hours. During that time, stretch and bend your wrists and hands.
CTS symptoms can be relieved by changing patterns of hand use or temporarily splinting the wrist during sleep. A steroid injection that can relieve symptoms around the nerve may be helpful as well.
In more serious cases, surgery may be required to cut the ligament that forms the top of the tunnel on the palm side of the hand. The result is an enlarging of the tunnel and therefore a decrease of pressure on the nerve.
If you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that cannot be relieved by home remedies, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Avery Arora in West Bloomfield, Howell, Macomb, or St. Clair Shores.