What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has been known by doctors for more than 100 years, but it took the emergence of computer keyboards for the condition to achieve national prominence. In fact, any activity that constantly strains the wrist, from guitar playing to rowing, from assembly line work to knitting, can bring it on. Sometimes, however, carpal tunnel syndrome can begin without any apparent cause at all. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes pinched due to swelling of the nerve or tendons or both. The median nerve provides sensation to the palm side of the thumb, index, middle fingers, as well as the inside half of the ring finger and muscle power to the thumb. When this nerve becomes pinched, numbness, tingling and sometimes pain of the affected fingers and hand may occur and radiate into the forearm.

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually starts as repeated local irritations swell the tendons and ligaments in the wrist. This then compresses the median nerve, which passes through a "tunnel" from the forearm to the hand. The combination of the inflamed tendons and the squeezed median nerve are responsible for the pain, tingling, numbness and weakness of the thumb and index and middle fingers characteristic of CTS.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder of the wrist and hand that affects some 5 million Americans. Carpal tunnel refers to a passageway in the wrist, composed of bones and ligaments, through which a major nerve system passes from the forearm into the hand.

For a variety of reasons--repetitive strain, arthritis, bone dislocation or fracture, fluid retention, or a variety of systemic changes affecting the entire body, such as diabetes--the carpal tunnel can become narrowed. When this occurs, the median nerve, which controls feeling and movement in the hand, is compressed by surrounding tissue or excess fluid. As the nerve is constricted, it causes numbness, weakness, or pain. Often affecting the dominant hand (though possible in both hands), these symptoms may appear suddenly or gradually, and may last for only a few days at a time or persist for several months.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

It is important to seek a healthcare provider if you have any of these following symptoms:

  • You might notice that their fingers "fall asleep" and become numb at night.
  • You might wake up with numbness and tingling in their hands.
  • Feeling of burning pain and numbness may generally run up the center of the person's forearm.
  • Sometimes CTS can reach as far as the shoulder.
  • As carpal tunnel syndrome becomes more severe, symptoms are noticed during the day.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Some causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include, but are not limited to:

  • A great amount of pressure in the wrist.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Infections.
  • Using objects that vibrate for a prolonged period of time.
  • Repetitive movements involving the wrists and hands.

Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can get progressively worse if untreated, it is important to treat it via:

  • Physiotherapy.
  • Ice therapy.
  • Heat therapy.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Chiropractic rehabilitation.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Rest.
  • Nutritious diet.

Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Some preventative measures include:

  • Having an ergonomic workplace.
  • Take breaks when doing activities.
  • Do not overexert your hands.
  • Increase strength in hands and wrists.
  • Increase range of motion in hands and wrists.
  • Increase stability in hands and wrists.
  • Exercise regularly.

If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and want a natural approach to health, we can help. Our Mississauga clinics have an approach to better health.