Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A narrow tunnel through which the median nerve enters the hand is known as carpal tunnel. This tunnel-like area is in the wrist. The median nerve is important because it helps with movement and imparts feeling to the index finger, middle finger, the thumb side of the ring finger, the palm, and the thumb. When this nerve feels a force or pressure on it or when something pinches this nerve owing to excess pressure, the affected person feels numbness, tingling sensation weakness, and pain in the fingers, hands, and palm. A condition that leads to these symptoms is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a painful and progressive condition.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you have this condition, in the beginning, you will develop symptoms in the thumb and the fingers close to the thumb. The symptoms slowly radiate to the palm, hand, and forearm. Manifestation of symptoms is slow and progress is gradual. You will feel pain, numbness, and tingling sensations during the night and after waking up in the morning. Another symptom of this condition is this – when you wake up you will shake your hand out. If you have a serious issue, your sleep gets repeatedly disturbed.
The most common symptoms of this condition include:
Numbness in the thumb and index finger and also in other fingers
Weakness and pain in the hand
Numbness in the palm of the hand
Itching, burning, or tingling sensation
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
The condition is commonly seen in people who excessively work or involve in activities and jobs that require repetitive movements of fingers, wrists, and hands. For instance, you may become prone to carpal tunnel syndrome if you are excessively involved in playing sports, working on a typewriter, or musical instruments, working on a computer, or using a mouse. In general, any activity or sport, or work that requires repeating hand movements can make you prone to this condition.
Bursitis or tendinitis
These two conditions may lead to the narrowing of carpal tunnel in the hand. When this happens, symptoms begin to manifest or unfold gradually if you get involved in certain activities.
Works that involve the vibration of hands. The use of tools that vibrate leads to the vibration of the hands. For instance, occupations such as carpentry, building works and construction, repairing, and others can make you prone to carpal tunnel syndrome.
People who are born with a small carpal tunnel may develop this condition.
Gender and Age
Compared to men, women are more susceptible to this condition. Even age also plays a role. It is common in people aged 35 to 60 years. With increasing or advancing age, people become more prone to this condition. In addition, the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome increases if you have:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Tumor or cyst that grows in the wrist
- Arthritis of the wrist and bone fractures
- Amyloidosis – Abnormal protein deposits can also lead to this condition
Obesity (excess body weight), alcohol use, pregnancy in women, and menopause can make you prone to this condition.
What happens when Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is left untreated?
Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can become worse progressively. The base of the thumb becomes sore and muscles do not work properly. You will lose sensitivity to hot and cold while using your hand – especially your finger and thumb. Numbness, tingling sensation, pain, and burning sensation become severe if you try to use your affected hand or when you keep your hand and arm in the same position for a long.
Carpal tunnel syndrome becomes progressively worse as it leads to loss of gripping and grasping strength. The symptoms may persist for a long – initially comes and go in bouts – and then persist throughout the day. You will find it difficult to grasp or grip small objects or clench your fist. As the symptoms progressively become worse, opening bottle caps, lids or cans, bottles, doing up buttons, working with a laptop, and typing will become difficult for you. All these activities may become a huge challenge for you.
Precautions and Treatment to be continued in the next article…