Saturday, August 2, 2014

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes And Risk Factors

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful hand and arm condition that is caused when a nerve in the wrist gets pinched. One of the most common causes is repetitive motion of the wrist and fingers. Other factors could include anatomy of your wrist or some underlying health problems.
Understanding The Carpal Tunnel
This is a narrow passage located on the wrist on the palm side. Its diameter is about the same as the diameter of the thumb and it is bound by bones and ligaments. The main purpose of this tunnel is to protect the main nerve that goes to your hand as well as the tendons that go to the fingers. Sometimes the carpel tunnel gets compressed, crowded or irritated. This could be because of a inflammation or swelling due to rheumatoid arthritis or because of some repetitive motion. Whatever the reason, the nerve gets pinched, it causes the symptoms that are typical of carpal tunnel syndrome. More often than not, it is difficult to identify one single causative factor. The symptoms usually develop due to a combination of multiple risk factors.
Recognizing the Risk Factors
There are several risk factors associated with these symptoms. While these factors do not directly cause the symptoms, they increase the likelihood of damaging the nerve or aggravating existing nerve damage.
• A dislocation or fracture in the wrist that decreases the space in the carpal tunnel
• Nerve damaging conditions such as diabetes
• Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Workplace factors such as working extended periods of time doing certain jobs that require you to flex your wrists repetitively
The pain generally starts gradually with a dull ache in the wrist region and this gets progressively worse if no steps are taken to manage the pain. Some of the most noticeable symptoms include:
• Numbness or tingling: Numbness or tingling are two of the most common sensations you will feel, especially in all fingers including the thumb but not in the little finger. The sensation feels more pronounced when holding a newspaper or a phone or steering wheel and it may become more or less constant as the condition progresses.
• Radiating Pain: In some cases, the pain may start at the wrist and extend up to the arm or shoulders or down to the palm and fingers. This usually happens if you've been using the wrist repetitively.
• Weakened muscles: the muscles in the wrists start to get weaker and you may start to lose control and let things drop from your fingers.
If you experience any of the above symptoms persistently it is best to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Irreparable nerve or muscle damage can occur if it is left untreated.
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