If you feel numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in your hands or wrist, you may be suffering from a condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). This syndrome is the most common nerve entrapment neuropathy that affects many people from around the world. Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome and it affects people between the ages of 36-60.
People with diabetes or other metabolic disorders are also at higher risk to develop this condition. So why does this happen to a person? Any repetitive activity of the hand and/or wrist can put a person at high risk of developing this condition. Such activities include: texting, typing, painting, knitting, etc. Essentially, any job or activity that demands repetitive movements of the fingers and wrist, hand movements, vibration, increases the risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition is caused by compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist carpal tunnel.
The tunnel has a thick ligament that holds and protects all nine flexor tendons and the median nerve. When there is increased pressure or encroachment of this space, symptoms arise. Other common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include genetic predisposition, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and pregnancy. CTS is generally gradual, with an onset of tingling and numbness along the distribution of the median nerve. The patient may notice aggravation of symptoms with static gripping of objects (steering wheel, phone).
This condition can progress if not treated in time and lead to constant tingling, numbness, burning, and weakness. Your health care practitioner will use a variety of modalities to diagnose your condition, such as an ultrasound or MRI. They will document a comprehensive clinical history and perform an orthopedic examination. In most cases, this condition can be resolved with conservative care. This includes activity modification, soft tissue therapy, modalities, exercise, bracing, and education. In more severe cases, non-surgical interventions may be recommended such as oral steroids, corticosteroid injection, NSAIDS, diuretics, and vitamin B6. The definitive treatment for constant persistent CTS is surgical intervention by an orthopedic surgeon or a hand surgeon. So if you are experiencing symptoms, listen to your body and have it examined by a health care professional.