For those who type, write, or perform any activity that involves their hands on the regular, it’s unlikely that you haven’t experienced pains and aches. The repetitive motion strains your hand and wrist and leads to the development of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
This condition is the result of the median nerve in your wrist getting compressed, leading to pain, tingling, numbness, and being a progressive condition, and it tends to get exacerbated over time.
Symptoms may not be evident at first, and doctors may struggle to diagnose it, but there are telltale signs that are important to address. However, it’s the most common entrapment of neuropathies, affecting 3–6% of all adults in the U.S. Let’s understand what the condition is, to begin with:
What is the carpal tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow, inch-wide passageway in the wrist, the floor, and sides of which are formed by small wrist bones. These bones, known as the carpal bones, protect the flexor tendons inside it, and the roof has a stiff, strong band of connectives tissue known as the transverse carpal ligament.
The basic function of this tunnel is to safeguard the median nerve and flexor tendons that allow your wrist, fingers, and thumbs to move. The median nerve extends to the neck, where it originates from. It’s responsible for providing feeling and sensation into the fingers and is the reason why we have opposable thumbs.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The compression of the nerve that manifests as symptoms including:
- Pain that’s dull or intense
- Numbness in the hand and fingers
- Tingling in the thumb and fingers
These symptoms may emerge at various points in the day or progressively worsen over time, leading to an inability to use your hand for extended periods of time. Muscles at the base of the thumb may be permanently affected, too, impacting your ability to feel sensations altogether.
What are the main causes behind it?
There are different reasons for the development of this condition, medically and otherwise. Essentially, the nerve compression occurs due to the synovium that swells and puts pressure on the nerve.
Some of the most common causes for it are:
Everyone’s genetic and anatomic makeup varies, which is why some people may have inherited narrow carpal tunnels from their families. This means their nerve will be compressed as a default. Since the band of tissue is tough, the tunnel cannot stretch much either.
Motions like typing, writing, certain sports, and exercises can strain the muscles in the wrist and lead to inflammation, and thus compression of your median nerve. Incorrect positioning also contributes to this.
Pregnancy leads to hormonal changes and variation, as well as inflammation in the body. Tendons and joints are especially affected by this, and carpal tunnel syndrome can often result from this.
What are the treatments for it?
Treatment is important for the condition because, without it, you can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage. It’s important to work closely with healthcare professionals, including a certified hand therapist.
Exercises and forms of therapy are used to alleviate the swelling. Additionally, using orthoses to correct positioning and learning how to do repetitive tasks without strain, as well as managing triggers, are a part of hand therapy treatments and trigger finger treatment.
If you’re based in Freehold, NJ, you can reach out to us. We have a team of skilled and experienced occupational therapists, specializing in conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger thumb treatments Freehold NJ, as well as Edison and Old Bridge.