Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition that affects the hand and palm. It is often confused with a herniated disc because the symptoms are similar.
In general, it is caused by compression of a nerve canal in the wrist, which can lead to weakness in the hand and wrist.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The median nerve is located in the canal that opens from the middle of the wrist to the palm. This nerve is responsible for providing sensation to all fingers except the little finger, and it transmits the signals needed to move the muscles of the thumb.
The carpal tunnel is a canal located in the palm and surrounded by bones and ligaments. Due to various reasons, the median nerve may be compressed and cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a neuropathic problem.
The pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel can cause weakness, numbness, and tingling in the hands and arms. This condition is often described as hand fatigue.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a complex disorder that is not caused by a single factor, but rather by a combination of diseases and anatomical changes. It develops when the median nerve in the hand is compressed for any reason.
The source of the pressure may be edema in the ligamentous tissue in the area or interruption of blood flow. In general, compression of the nerve inside the canal and increased canal pressure is related to genetic predisposition.
In addition, various rheumatic diseases, obesity, pregnancy, and repetitive wrist movements are risk factors for the development of the problem.
In addition, the following conditions may also be associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Fluid retention in the body during pregnancy and menopause
- Thyroid gland disorders
- High blood pressure
- Trauma and injuries that have occurred in the hand-wrist area
- Autoimmune diseases that cause the immune system to damage its own cells and tissues
In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome does not develop for a single reason, but rather develops in the wake of various risk factors and health problems. It is a more common condition in women than in men, and it is thought that this is due to the narrower canal structure in women than in men.
Health problems such as diabetes are also decisive in carpal tunnel syndrome, as these types of conditions can damage nerves. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammatory problems in the ligamentous tissue in the area, which can lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Another risk factor is long-term and continuous use of work machines. Exposing the wrist to high vibration by making the same movements for a long time can create pressure on the nerve. This type of use can be exemplified by using a keyboard and mouse for a long time.
What Are The Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are closely related to the function of the median nerve. The median nerve controls the movement and sensation of a specific area of the hand, so numbness and weakness in this area are defining symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Other symptoms include:
- Weakness in the hand muscles
- Pain, numbness, and tingling in the index, middle, and thumb fingers
- Hand tremors
- Severe wrist pain that wakes you up at night
- Heat and pain radiating from the wrist to the arm
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are usually mild at first, but they progress over time. This condition can be confused with other hand and wrist problems or neck herniated discs. The similarity of the symptoms can lead to a misunderstanding of the disease symptoms, but some symptoms directly indicate the presence of carpal tunnel syndrome.
One of the important findings here is the fact that the complaints affect the little finger. In addition to all the senses in the other fingers, the symptom of electrifying may also appear.
In addition, most patients feel the need to shake their wrists involuntarily in response to the pain that wakes them up at night, and this is also an important finding.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
As with any disease, the patient’s history is very important in diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, it is necessary to listen to the patient’s complaints, consider the distinguishing symptoms, and perform a good physical examination. In some patients, various diagnostic methods may be used for a more accurate diagnosis.
Many factors are considered together, such as whether the patient has other health problems that could cause the syndrome and working conditions.
During the physical examination, various movements and tests that indicate the presence of the syndrome can be performed:
This is a test performed with a reflex hammer. If complaints of median nerve involvement are observed after the application, carpal tunnel syndrome can be mentioned.
The patient is asked to join the outer parts of their hands in front of the body, and after holding this position for 1 minute, the occurrence of symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain is observed. If complaints occur, the test result is recorded as positive.
This method, which allows the examination of the region’s muscles, also controls the nerves that stimulate the muscles. The electrical signals that the nerves transmit for muscle stimulation are measured by the EMG device and the numerical values are compared with normal values. This allows for interpretation of the presence of the syndrome.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment?
The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is evaluated based on the patient’s complaints and the progression of the disease. Therefore, the treatment method applied to each patient is individual and specific to the situation.
If the disease is diagnosed early, the treatment is also easier. It is possible to control carpal tunnel syndrome with supportive treatment applications and recommendations.
It is especially important for patients not to make movements that strain the area and cause pain, and to be informed about wrist movements.
Using an arm-wrist brace is a recommended treatment method because it helps to keep the wrist in its normal position. Brace use prevents unconscious and involuntary reverse movements, thereby reducing pressure on the nerve.
Pain and swelling complaints can be relieved with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In some people, steroid injections may also be used to reduce inflammation in the area.
The medication use process is completely planned under the control of the physician and is organized to meet the needs of the patient.
In advanced syndromes, surgery is aimed at eliminating the problem. Through surgery, the problem that is pressing on the median nerve is identified and corrected, and in this way the nerve is relaxed. In addition, physical therapy and various hand and wrist exercises are applied under the recommendation of the physician.
How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, it is recommended to keep the tension in the hands and wrists to a minimum and not to apply excessive force to the area. It is necessary to use less force in gripping and squeezing activities and keep the fingers looser.
If the hands and fingers are actively used due to work, it is important to make the striking movements slower and more gentle. In addition, taking short and frequent breaks during work also helps to prevent the development of the problem by resting the area.
It is important to avoid bending the wrists completely up or down and making reverse movements. In general, leaving the hands and wrists in the most comfortable and relaxed position is beneficial for health. In addition, it prevents the area from being strained by correcting posture problems.