LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Ways To Lower The Risk Of The Condition

Date March 6, 2018

Do you have pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling in one or both of your hands? If you have these symptoms, they may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition develops when the median nerve, a major nerve that runs through your arm, becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel.

Factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome include repetitive movements of the wrist, fracture of the wrist, and inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Many people shrug off the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome at the beginning, but the condition gets worse if left untreated.

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Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Sometimes, the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be established. If your job involves repetitive movements of the hands and wrists, such as typing, playing musical instruments, or using vibrating tools, you may be at a higher risk of the condition. The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is three times higher in women than in men because men have wider carpal tunnels.

Other factors that can cause the condition or increase the risk of developing it include the following:

  • hypothyroidism;
  • diabetes;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • fluid retention due to pregnancy;
  • fracture or dislocation of the wrist;
  • obesity;
  • kidney failure.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Symptoms of the condition usually develop slowly. It usually starts with numbness and tingling in the hand (or hands), particularly in the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers and the palm area around them (the little finger is an exception because it's controlled by a different nerve).

Other signs and symptoms include the following:

  • pain in the wrist and hand;
  • discomfort in the wrist and hand that interferes with your sleep;
  • a weakened grip.

Some people also experience pain and discomfort in the forearm. The symptoms may show infrequently at first, but they start to appear more often over time if there’s no treatment.

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Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

If the condition is diagnosed early, it may be improved by the following:

  • wearing wrist splints during nighttime and during the day when it doesn’t interfere with your activities;
  • applying cold compresses to relieve inflammation and swelling;
  • taking frequent breaks from work or other activities to give your hands and wrists enough rest;
  • making adjustments to your workplace to position your hands more comfortably during work;
  • physical therapy;
  • taking over-the-counter painkillers to relieve pain;
  • steroid injections to reduce inflammation;
  • better management of the condition that led to carpal tunnel syndrome.

If measures described above aren’t enough to improve the condition, your doctor will likely recommend surgery.

How to lower the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

There is no guaranteed method that can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, but you can take measures that help lower your risk of the condition. They include the following:

  • managing the conditions that increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome more effectively;
  • taking frequent breaks from activities that put stress on your wrists;
  • improving your posture and changing the position of your hands when working;
  • wearing fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm when working in a cold environment;
  • avoiding awkward and uncomfortable positions of the wrists and hands, especially when working.

Source: NINDS, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, HealthLine

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.