Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Overview and potential treatments
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes tingling sensation and pain in the hand due to compression of the nerves running through the hand. The carpal tunnel is a narrow space in the wrist which is enclosed by the bones of the wrist (the carpal bones) and the fibrous band that overlie them. The tissues that travel through this space include the median nerve and the tendons that extend from the forearm to the fingers. The whole system is delicate and prone to injury resulting from repeated stress on the area.

The median nerve is responsible for controlling the movements of the specific muscles in the hand. It carries sensory information between the palm, the thumb, forefinger, middle finger, part of the ring finger and the brain. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when this median nerve is compressed within the space of the wrist enclosed by carpal bones, disrupting its functions and causing weakness of the hand muscles that are controlled by the median nerve. The pressure causes pain and loss of some use of the hand. This disorder is often seen in people between the ages of forty and sixty and it is found that women are more affected than men.

Causes

Carpal  tunnel syndrome is often associated with diabetes mellitus, an underactive thyroid gland, pregnancy, obesity; rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. During pregnancy, fluid retention in the body causes pressure on the carpal nerve. The disorder mainly affects middle aged and elderly women, especially those who use their fingers a lot. This disorder is associated with typing and other daily activities that require repeated movements of the hands causing inflammation of the tendons at the wrist. It is essential to learn the correct typing technique and a keyboard with soft touch keys will minimize the risk of injury to the carpal tunnel and the wrist.

Symptoms

  • Pain and tingling in the palms are observed in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • The thumb, the second and third fingers and the side of the fourth finger may be affected
  • The base of the thumb may produce a cracking sound while you are using the hand without any specific pressure on the area

This sensation sometimes extends up into the forearm and tends to be worse at night or when very warm. It can be relieved for a short time by shaking the arm. Over a period of time, the muscles in the thumb and the other muscles in the hand may become weak, making it difficult for the sufferer to grip things firmly. Numbness may also be felt in the hand. A diagnosis is made from a description of the symptoms. Tapping the wrist may cause the tingling and pain to begin.

The symptoms may get progressively worse over a period of weeks and during this time the patient may experience limitations in the motor functions of the wrist. The space in the tunnel may be reduced as a result of other conditions like osteoarthritis of the wrist. Severe cases can lead to weakness of the small muscles at the base of the thumb.

As soon as the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are developed, it is better to seek immediate medical attention as the disorder may cause severe disability if its progress is left unchecked. It is well worth investigating treatments from Chinese medicine as these seem to have a remarkable effect for many sufferers.

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