Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a numbness or tingling in the arm or hand due to an irritated or pinched nerve. In your hand and arm, there are two main factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome developing: your carpal tunnel and the median nerve.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones that is found at the base of the hand that houses the median nerve and tendons. The median nerve is a central nerve that runs through your forearm and passes through the carpal tunnel to control sensations to the thumb index and middle fingers on the hand. Compression of the median nerve is what leads to the symptoms that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome such as:
- Burning sensation
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Anything that crowds, compresses or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space will lead to carpal tunnel; for example, a fracture or trauma to the wrist. However, in most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, no one cause can be identified but specific health concerns can put you at a higher risk for developing the disorder such as:
- Nerve damaging conditions (such as diabetes)
- Arthritis or other inflammatory conditions
- Fluid retention
- Thyroid disorders
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome treatment should begin as early as possible. Your doctor will first want to determine whether there is an underlying cause such as diabetes or arthritis that should be treated first. Following that, treatment will involve resting the affected hand and applying cold packs to reduce swelling that may develop.
Other treatment options may include:
- Wrist splitting
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Cortisone or other corticosteroids
For more severe cases or persistent symptoms may require surgery to alleviate the pressure on the nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be painful and debilitating and if you are experiencing any sort of chronic pain be sure to talk to your doctor about treatment options right away.