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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs in the hand and finger nerves. This happens when there is pressure on the median nerve, which is the nerve supplying movement and feeling to the different parts of the hand. When it gets too much pressure, it can cause weakness, soreness, tingling and numbness of the hand, wrist and fingers. Often times people get carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motion injury, but it can also be prevented in many cases.

Causes and Risk Factors

A variety of injuries can cause damage to the carpal tunnel, the nerve that goes from the wrist to the hand and is in control of the feeling and movement. It is most common of people who have jobs or hobbies with repetitive motions. This includes typing, driving, painting, playing a musical instrument, playing sports like handball or tennis, sewing, using hand tools, working in an assembly line, and writing. It is most common in women between 30 and 60 years old, though men and other ages can also get carpal tunnel syndrome. Some medical problems tend to be linked with carpal tunnel syndrome including alcoholism, arthritis, bone fractures, acromegaly, hypothyroidism, diabetes, infections, pregnancy, obesity, kidney failure, sclerodermas, systemic lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that can point to possible carpal tunnel syndrome. These include clumsiness in the hand while trying to grab objects, numbness or tingling in the fingers, number or tingling in the thumb or fingers, pain going from the hand or wrist to the elbow, pain in the wrist, problems with finger coordination, a weak grip or difficulty carrying bags.

Diagnosing and Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Following a physical examination of your hands, fingers and wrists, a variety of tests will be performed to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. This includes a wrist x-ray, nerve conduction velocity test and an electromyography. Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome typically include lessening the pain and discomfort in the hands and wrists, such as using hot and cold compresses, avoid sleeping on your wrists and wearing a splint during the day, especially during activities that might have caused the condition such as work or sports. You may also be asked to get special devices to ease the discomfort of the carpal tunnel syndrome such as getting a new type of mouse, cushioned mouse pad or a keyboard drawer. Medications might also help reduce the inflammation such as taking naproxen or ibuprofen. Surgery is only needed in severe cases which includes a procedure to cut into the ligament and release the pressure on the nerve.
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