Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a nerve that runs through your wrist becomes pinched. Your median nerve goes through a structure in your wrist known as carpal tunnel. When the space is narrowed, it puts pressure on your median nerve. This irritates the nerve and causes the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are a few different factors that can cause the space inside your carpal tunnel to become narrower and irritate your median nerve. In some cases, more than one factor can lead to this condition. The anatomy of this part of your wrist can increase your risk of irritation if you have smaller wrist structures, since there is less space around the nerve. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney problems or thyroid disorders, can also make you more likely to develop this condition. Other possible causes include wrist fractures and other injuries as well as repetitive movements, such as typing. You might also have a higher risk of having this condition if you retain more fluid, such as during menopause or pregnancy.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome typically start slowly and grow worse over time as more damage occurs. The first symptoms you might experience are numbness or a tingling feeling that affects your index finger, middle finger and thumb from time to time. You might also have soreness in your hand and wrist occasionally. In most cases, you won’t have pain or tingling in your little finger. When you do have tingling in your thumb and other fingers, it might flare up suddenly when you do certain tasks, such as driving or holding a phone. You might also feel these symptoms when you wake up if you sleep on the affected side.
As carpal tunnel syndrome becomes worse, you might feel pain and tingling moving up your arm from your hand and wrist. Instead of having pain and tingling from time to time, these symptoms might become more persistent. You might also develop weakness while holding objects as your muscles become weaker or from numbness in your fingers and hand. It’s important to have symptoms of this condition checked in order to receive treatment for it. Otherwise, you can end up with irreversible damage in your muscles and nerves.
You can help lower your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome by limiting the amount of stress and pressure you put on your wrist and hand. Using a softer grip or using less force when typing, writing with a pen or doing other routine tasks is one way to do this. You should also take breaks frequently if you do work or other activities that involve performing repetitive movements. Making sure your hands are warm while working can also lower your risk of experiencing pain and tingling, since these symptoms are more likely to occur when you’re in a colder environment. Other ways to help prevent this condition include improving your posture to reduce pressure on your median nerve and keeping your wrists level with a keyboard if you type all day, rather than bending your wrists up and down frequently.
If you have been experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, please contact Complete Neurological Care to schedule an appointment. We will evaluate your condition and provide you with proper treatment for it to prevent damage to your muscles and nerve.