Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition of the wrist and arm, that occurs when the median nerve (nerve that runs from your forearm into your palm) gets irritated or inflamed due to excessive pressure from nearby tissues. The median nerve is located in a rigid and rather narrow passageway at the base of the hand, called the carpal tunnel. Irritation of the nerve leads to a feeling of numbness, tingling or weakness, accompanied by intermittent episodes of sharp, shooting pain that pierces through the base of the hand to the upper arm.
Four Things You Need to Know
- Causes: This condition is caused by the pressing or squeezing of the median nerve, which creates excess pressure on it inside the carpal tunnel. Pressure on the nerve can also be increased due to an injury or trauma to the wrist. Mechanical problems in the joint of the wrist, either due to injury or birth defects, also contribute to the syndrome. In some people, carpal tunnel may also be caused due to a narrower-than-usual carpal tunnel passage, which causes the nerves and tendons inside to squeeze against each other.
- Symptoms: Numbness of the arms (particularly the palm and the thumb, index and middle fingers) is the most common symptom, which may be accompanied with frequent itching or burning. The symptoms develop gradually and are often experienced during the night during onset. As the condition aggravates, the pain begins occurring during day time as well. This is followed by weakness in the arms, reduced grip strength and loss of hot/cold sensations.
- Risk factors: Sex is a risk factor and so is age. It occurs almost exclusively in adults and affects women thrice as many times as men. Diabetes and medical conditions that affect metabolism also increase a person’s risk of developing the syndrome. It is also more common in people performing routine assembly-line work, such as sewing, manufacturing or packing.
- Diagnosis and treatment: Physical examination and routine laboratory tests are used to check the arms, hands, neck and shoulders for signs of arthritis, fractures and carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors may use the Tinel test or the Phalen test to induce symptoms of carpal tunnel for clearer diagnosis. Electrodiagnostic tests are used to confirm the condition. Treatment includes an array of surgical and non-surgical procedures to ease pressure on the nerve and treat the condition.
Interested in Learning More about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Contact Texas Neurosurgery, LLP.
For more information about carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Texas Neurosurgery. We are located in Baylor Dallas and Methodist Pavilion I, and can be reached directly at 214-823-2052. We look forward to hearing from you soon.