Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to compression of the median nerve at the wrist, resulting in weakness, pain and possibly numbness of the hand and wrist. The median nerve controls sensation in the palm of the hand (thumb and fingers, excluding the pinky or little finger).
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is very important, since long-term carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage, constant numbness and atrophy of muscles related to the carpal tunnel.
Causes Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Often times the specific cause of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is undetermined. However, it is known that CTS is associated with the following:
- An abnormally small carpal tunnel
- Repetitive, work related stress
- A wrist injury that results in swelling (e.g. wrist sprain or fracture)
- An overactive pituitary gland
- Arthritis (rheumatoid)
- Fluid retention during pregnancy
- Cysts/tumors that form in the tunnel
Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Symptoms of CTS usually start gradually, and become more severe as the problem worsens.
The following symptoms are listed from initial to later stages:
- Tingling, itching and even a burning sensation in the thumb and fingers
- Numbness in the palm of the hand
- A feeling of tightness or swelling
- Pain in the hand or wrist
- Loss of strength when gripping some object
- Inability to distinguish between cold and hot objects
- As the condition worsens atrophy of the thenar muscles may occur
Please note that it is common for these symptoms to first occur at night only, since many people sleep with their wrists in a flexed position. As the condition progresses some or all of the symptoms will occur throughout the day as well.
Treatment Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are two types of treatments for CTS: surgical and non-surgical. It is very important to diagnose CTS as early as possible in order to avoid surgical treatment.
Non-surgical treatment consists of:
- Resting and immobilizing the affected hand via splints or braces
- Avoiding activity that stresses the hand and wrist
- Massage therapy
- Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain and swelling
- Injection of corticosteroids into the wrist (can also be taken orally) to relieve pressure on the
Surgery is often recommended if symptoms have been present for 6 months.
There are two types of surgery used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Traditional "open release" surgery, which involves an incision in the wrist followed by severing
of the carpal ligament (this increases the size of the carpal tunnel)
- Endoscopic surgery, which involves inserting a tiny camera into the wrist/palm and results in a
faster recovery time, less post-operative discomfort and a smaller degree of scarring.
It is very important to catch carpal tunnel syndrome early on. Unfortunately CTS can be difficult to diagnose, and symptoms can also be caused by things other than carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chiro-Med Rehab Centre located in Richmond Hill has the necessary expertise and knowledge to help you recover from carpal tunnel syndrome. As professionals we can recommend the type of treatment needed and effectively implement that treatment, getting you on the road to recovery as quick as possible!