If you are feeling a weird sensation usually numbness or weakness in your hand, then there is a possibility that you have a carpal tunnel syndrome. This sickness happens when one of the major nerves in your hand, specifically the median nerve, is compressed. This nerve runs through your arm to the carpal tunnel.
Just like any other sickness, carpal tunnel syndrome worsens when not treated immediately. It can even come to a point when you can have a nerve damage. This is why to prevent this, you need to know the causes, symptoms, and relief to this syndrome. Continue reading this article to find out.
Carpal Tunnel Causes
One of the basic causes of this syndrome is swelling. When you are doing repetitive motions like typing or any action that uses your lower wrist, the tendency of swelling is higher. Other possible causes are conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are also instances when the syndrome is hereditary. Although this cause is not as common as the others, it is better to check if any member of the family has this disorder. Another rare case is hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
The most basic symptom that you will if you have carpal tunnel syndrome is the numbness or tingling feeling in your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. There can be times that you will feel pain or a burning feeling in those areas. In some cases, these feelings tend to move to the forearm to the shoulder.
Other symptoms include weakness and clumsiness in your hand. When this happens, you might find it difficult to do your daily routine, even buttoning your pants. This could also lead to you dropping your things randomly because of the numbness of your hand.
The symptoms do not occur occasionally. It might happen today and the next time, it could be next week. You might even think that it is nothing, but do not be complacent and immediately head to the doctor once any of the aforementioned symptoms occur.
You might experience these symptoms at night. If you are the type of person who sleeps with your wrists bent, then you might feel the numbness while sleeping. There is even a chance for you to experience these symptoms when you are awake. You might feel it when you are typing, using your phone, or even while reading your favorite novel.
Worst cases, however, may have severe symptoms. You might experience slower nerve impulses, loss of strength, and even loss of feeling in your fingers. If not received treatment, you could have a permanent muscle damage to the point that you will lose the function of your hand entirely.
Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis
You will have to undergo several tests for you to see if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The first exam is a physical examination. This test includes:
- Pressing or tapping the median nerve in your wrists to check if you will feel numb
- Holding and bending your wrist in flexed positions
- Holding a special instrument with closed eyes
- Checking muscle weakness
- Checking the atrophy in the base of your thumb
Another examination that you should take is the electrophysiological test. This will check whether the median nerve is working and if it experiences pressure or compression. The exam consists of nerve conduction studies and electromyogram (EMG).
- Nerve conduction studies: It checks the nerve signals in your hand to see if there are any defects. Once there is a positive result, the exam can further check the status of the damaged nerve.
- Electromyogram (EMG): EMG, on the contrary, focuses on the muscle signals of your hand. It can easily detect any damage in your hand.
Other exams that you can go to are ultrasound, x-rays, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These tests primarily focus on providing images of your hand, particularly the wrist. These images can show the tissues of your wrist. There can be an instance when these scans can find the cause of your disorder such as fracture, arthritis, or ligament injury.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment
There are two carpal tunnel reliefs available: non-surgical and surgical. If you immediately ask for help during the early stages of the illness, you can turn to the non-surgical treatment. But if you are experiencing more painful symptoms, then it is best that you have the surgical treatment.
If the disorder’s symptoms just started showing, the doctor would prescribe that you use a splinting or bracing. Wearing this will keep your wrist in the right position, most especially when you are sleeping. You will also be asked to take medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen. These medicines will relieve the inflammation in your wrist.
In addition, it would be helpful if you change the activities that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. This way, you can eliminate your chances of compressing the median nerve. It would also help if you do gliding exercises regularly.
Only those with severe cases are recommended to undergo surgical treatment. The surgical procedure is called a carpal tunnel release in which the ligament is removed from the roof of the tunnel. There are two operations available: open carpal tunnel release and endoscopic carpal tunnel release.
Both may have a different procedure but the main goal is to relieve the pain in the median nerve. Choosing which type of carpal tunnel release will depend on the severity of your disorder. This is why it is better that you consult with your doctor first.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder wherein your hand is numb or experiencing a tingling feeling. There are different causes for this illness, but it is usually when your wrist is swelling.
Treatments on this disease vary depending on the symptoms. You can go for a non-surgical treatment or a surgical treatment. Once it is not treated immediately, a simple numbness in your wrist could end up not being able to use your hand entirely.