What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the median nerve compression travelling through the carpal tunnel. Pain and paresthesias develop in the areas innervated by the median nerve. In our body there are so-called bottlenecks, through which tendons, blood vessels, and nerves pass. Sometimes it happens that these bottlenecks become even narrower and those important anatomical structures that transfer through them begin to pinch and squeeze.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment includes correction of adverse postures, analgesia, immobilization, sometimes glucocorticoid injections or surgery. Not always everything ends with an operation, there are special exercises which contribute to improving the tendons. Besides, there is a variant of a temporary blockage using powerful drugs or a splint as another solution.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes
A lot of doctors say that, it’s difficult to name an actual explanation for this disorder. In fact, it occurs because of median nerve tension. Although, there are several theories, including:
- Women at the age of 30-50. According to gynecologists, the syndrome can be developed due to the changes in the metabolism.
- Any kind of systemic inflammation.
- Hemodialysis. If the patient spends 10 years on hemodialysis, they are likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Various types of diabetes and specific medications for treating this illness.
- Job requiring multiple flexion and intense movements in the carpus.
Some patients experience unpleasant feelings in their fingers, at the same time others wake up at night, shake their hands for some time and sleep on. Nevertheless, it’s not cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or stroke, which can shorten life or end up with disability. The illness doesn’t develop rapidly and enables people to find the most suitable therapy for themselves depending on carpal tunnel syndrome signs.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
As a rule, the signs turn noticeable gradually. Among them:
- Pain in the arm and corpus, described as numbness, often distributed along the median nerve, though possibly affecting the entire arm.
- Atrophy of the fingers and weakness in the thumb with impaired abduction.
- Discomfort developed due to pregnancy. Moreover, carpal tunnel syndrome may manifest itself during pregnancy for the 1st time, and then return again in 10-15 years.
- The disorder may be found after having injuries of the carpus and end up after going through the course of treatment of the damage that provoked it. If there were no damage and the signs turned up on their own, then most likely the syndrome will develop slowly.
- Weakness. People can suffer from numbness in the arms and drop even lightweight things.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment
The diagnosing process starts from the person’s carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Then the specialist conducts a study that shows the speed of impulse travelling along the nervous system (electroneuromyography ENG). It shows when the person slows down, how quickly they get to their fingertips. If the research results discover muscle conditions, the doctor may prescribe a surgical intervention, for example:
- Curing the carpal tunnel syndrome causes.
- Glucocorticoid and anesthetic.
- Rarely surgical decompression.
Treating any underlying medical disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism) can help relieve the problem.
FAQ about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What will happen if carpal tunnel syndrome is not treated?
If the major nerve of your hand is squeezed, under constant pressure, or irritated due to an array of triggers, it will lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Such a diagnosis is usually not life-threatening or serious. However, causing lots of unpleasant feelings, it must be properly handled by an experienced and knowledgeable neurologist who is capable of restoring the normal level of life quality, repairing your performance since the condition can interfere with dealing with simple daily tasks, and alleviating the symptoms, such as itching or burning sensations and aching feelings in fingers.
If left unmanaged, a gradual decrease in the working capacity of the hand leads to muscle atrophy and deformity of the hand. All preventive and healing measures offered by a specialist are aimed at eliminating the causes. Lifestyle changes and drug therapy are the imperative components of an overall treatment strategy. Competent treatment is essential to avoid irreversible damages.
What are the warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Fractures, uncontrolled hypertension, autoimmune diseases, troubles with the thyroid are the main sources of the development of CTS. These neurological issues must be properly managed by a neurologist to avoid complications, nerve problems, and intensive painful sensations. Thus, if you experience the following signs and those signs have become the main source of poor sleep or interfere with daily activity, immediately schedule a meeting with the doctor who treats disorders of nerves and the nervous system:
- impaired sensation in hands: loss of a sense of touch, temperature, or even pain;
- gradual loss of motor activity, problems with holding objects and things, hands weakness;
- burning pain in palms accompanied by swelling of the wrist.
Ignoring mentioned above symptoms, a patient won’t be able to coordinate finger movement, will suffer from the inability to deal with daily tasks or do the job, and progressing, the syndrome will cause too much discomfort and severe pain.
Does the carpal tunnel go away?
CTS is a slowly developing pathological process that requires a correct attitude to fight the condition. Generally, the disease has a favorable prognosis for recovery, but due to the neglect of their health, some people prefer to ignore warning signs and do not pay enough attention to painful sensations. Over time, this leads to a drop in motor activity and muscle strength. Without the assistance of a medical specialist, irreversible processes will definitely begin, deteriorating your well-being.
However, if you see a doctor on time and get comprehensive care and efficient treatment, smartly curing the syndrome, the symptoms will go away. But lifestyle adjustment, exercising, and other preventive methods and measures are must-have treatment components not only on the way to recovery. It is crucial to continue to live healthier and make better lifestyle choices throughout your life to avoid recurring episodes, development of other neurological disorders, and, generally, to keep your nerves healthy and maintain your well-being.
How can I check myself for carpal tunnel?
To check whether unpleasant sensations warn you about nerve damages and CTS, you can make a self-diagnosis and conduct a simple physical exam:
- put the hand which you think is affected on the flat area and relax it;
- after, you need to tap with the opposite hand on the damaged wrist;
- if such tapping provokes numbness, probably you have CTS.
The mentioned above test is considered one of the easiest ways to examine the health of your nerves and is called Tinel’s Sign. There are other methods that can help you to identify the nerve issues and check whether your nerves are healthy. Of course, you can test yourself but try to avoid self-medication. Contacting your health care provider or trustworthy neurologist is always the wisest way since only trained and qualified specialists can ensure high-quality examination and accurate diagnosis and come up with the right scheme of curing the syndrome for expected medical outcomes and regaining the health of your nerves and nervous system.