Non-ergonomic keyboard and mouse devices and repetitive hand movements are often associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Because of this, people are well aware that it has something to do with wrist pain from improper and continuous use of your hands. But, what exactly causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by tingling sensations, numbness and occasional pain in a person’s hands and fingers. The carpal tunnel is an inch-wide passageway in a person’s wrist through which the median nerve runs. The syndrome exists when the carpal tunnel narrows or when the median nerve is pressured by swollen tendons.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is found in men and women of different ages. Numbers show that older people and women have higher chances of acquiring the condition.
Are You At Risk?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by different risk factors and existing conditions:
Family History. Carpal tunnel syndrome is hereditary. Your chances of acquiring it if you have a family history of the disease are higher.
Repetitive movements. The most commonly associated factor with carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive hand movements because this creates pressure against the median nerve. Activities such as playing an instrument, packing, and working with vibrating tools such as chainsaws are examples of repetitive movements.
Pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling of your tendons and other body parts as well. However, the condition passes after childbirth.
Diseases and conditions. Thyroid gland imbalance, arthritis, and diabetes contribute to acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome.
Hand or wrist injuries. After a hand injury such as a fracture or a sprain, carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes manifest. The swelling caused by these injuries put pressure on the median nerve.
Signs to Look Out For
The most common symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling sensation, and burning pain in the hand or fingers, especially the thumb, half of the ring, index, or middle finger. The symptoms of the condition get worse during nighttime. Other symptoms to look out for are:
Dull aches or discomfort in the arms
Shock-like or burning sensations in the hands similar to pins and needles
Weakness in the hands, especially in the area around the base of the thumb
These manifestations of carpal tunnel syndrome affect the person’s dexterity, or the ability of the person to use hands effectively in carrying out tasks like gripping an object or unbuttoning a shirt.
How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome depends on a number of factors, but there are some things you can do to lessen your chances.
One thing you can do to protect yourself from acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome is by using proper hand and wrist movements. You can do this by spreading pressure and motion evenly to your fingers and by keeping your wrists straight.
Another is taking breaks from tasks that require repetitive movements of fingers such as typing. You can also switch hands in other activities that require you to do repetitive motions with it.
This way, you can rest your hands from doing any activity that might cause problems. There are also available ergonomic keyboard and mouse devices that support the wrist adequately to prevent it from unnecessary strain during long work hours.
Dealing With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Home
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be dealt with and effectively managed depending on its intensity. During its early stages, it can be managed by nonsurgical treatment at home.
Using thumb braces. Wearing a thumb brace, one that is specifically designed to prevent bending of your wrists and support your thumb, allows you to keep them straight while at rest or when sleeping.
NSAIDs. Inflammation and pain can be reduced by taking NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Managing activities. Switch the usual position of your hands when in use for long periods of time. This may keep the disease from progressing.
Hand exercises. Your doctor may recommend certain exercises that help stretch the wrist and avoid the narrowing of your carpal tunnel.
Steroids. Cortisone can be injected into your wrist for temporary relief of symptoms displayed by the syndrome, depending on the orders of your doctor.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you have displayed any of the signs and symptoms above that are gradually getting worse, it is important to see a doctor. Even though it is not a serious or fatal condition, carpal tunnel syndrome worsens over time and can disrupt your productivity. For these reasons, early detection and treatment are essential.
Your doctor might conduct a series of tests to determine the existence and stage of the condition and might recommend you for surgery the condition can no longer be managed by medicines and lifestyle adjustments.