ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Diseases, Disorders & Conditions

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Test, Exercises, Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on October 20, 2013

Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to an arm and hand condition that is progressively painful and caused due to a pinched nerve in the wrist. Varied factors such as presence of certain health issues, the wrist anatomy and patterns of hand usage can contribute towards development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The carpal tunnel is a slim tube-like structure that is about the size of the thumb and is enclosed by ligaments and bones. It is situated on the palm or upper side of the wrist. The tunnel guards 9 tendons that help bend the fingers, as well as the main nerve of the hand. When the nerve is squeezed, it results in pain, numbness and ultimately weakness of the hand associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Most individuals affected by carpal tunnel syndrome can alleviate the numbness and pain via medications and other treatment options that restore normalcy of hand and wrist use.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually commences slowly with a dull ache in the wrist that can radiate to the forearm or hand. Some of the common signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are listed below:

  • The hand or fingers may experience numbness or tingling, particularly the index finger and thumb or ring and middle fingers but not the little finger. Patients will typically experience this abnormal feeling after waking up or when holding a phone, steering wheel or newspaper. Lots of affected individuals tend to forcefully shake their hands to ease the symptoms. The progression of the condition may lead to continuous numbness.

  • The hands may experience weakness resulting in increased tendency to drop items

  • The pain may extend from the wrist down to the palm or fingers or up the arm to the shoulders. This is more so after repetitive or vigorous use of the hands. The pain normally affects the palm or inner side of the forearm.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused due to compression or squeezing of the median nerve. This nerve passes from the forearm via the carpal passageway to the hand. It offers feeling on the palm side of the fingers and thumb, excluding the little finger. It is also responsible for transmission of nerve signals that help move the muscles near the thumb base.

Typically, carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by anything that irritates, crowds, or narrows the median nerve in the carpal passageway. For example, inflammation and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis or a wrist fracture can constrict the carpal space and irritate the median nerve.

In most instances, no singular cause for carpal tunnel syndrome can be determined. Often a combination of varied factors eventually result in the carpal anomaly. Some of the risk factors that increase the susceptibility of developing carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows:

  • The presence of certain nerve-damaging conditions like alcoholism or diabetes can aggravate and damage the nerves, including the median nerve.

  • A wrist fracture or any other kind of accident that dislocates or alters the carpal space can exert pressure on the median nerve, increasing the risk to carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Infections and other inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can adversely affect the wrist tendons, thereby creating additional pressure on the median nerve.

  • Women have smaller carpal tunnels than men and hence at greater risk to the syndrome. It may also be noted that women affected by the condition have comparatively smaller carpal space than other non-affected women.

  • Jobs that require repetitive or prolonged use of the wrist, or involves use of vibrating machinery, may cause external pressure on the median nerve or aggravate an existing case of nerve damage, thereby increasing the risk to carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Menopause, pregnancy, thyroid abnormalities, obesity, kidney failure and other such conditions that alter the fluid composition in the body can result in elevated pressure in the carpal passageway, thereby aggravating the median nerve.

Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome (Tests)

The doctor may carry out a number of tests and diagnostic procedures to ascertain the presence of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of the tests are listed below:

  • A physical examination to test the muscle strength in the hands as well as the sensations in the fingers. The abnormal symptoms may be recreated by putting pressure on the median nerve via squeezing or tapping the nerve or bending the wrist.

  • The pattern of symptoms may be studied. If the little finger also experiences problems then carpal tunnel syndrome can be ruled out. The timing of the symptoms such as when holding items, etc. is also verified.

  • An electromyogram, x-rays of the wrist and a nerve conduction study may also be ordered by the doctor.

If the symptoms and diagnostic tests point to the presence of some other condition, then the doctor will direct the patient to a specific specialist for further tests.

Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

Mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome can be alleviated by application of ice packs to decrease swelling and resting of the hands. If the syndrome persists, then the doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

  • Non-surgical therapies

    • Intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain

    • Wrist splitting so as to keep the wrist still during sleep and thus reduce nocturnal numbness and tingling.

    • Treating the underlying causes of carpal tunnel syndrome can help eliminate the condition

    • Corticosteroid injections directly administered into the carpal tunnel so as to alleviate the pain.

  • Surgery

    • If carpal tunnel syndrome is not resolved via non-surgical means, then surgery is recommended. It can be either an open surgery or an endoscopic surgery. Surgery involves release of pressure on median nerve by cutting the ligament that is exerting the pressure. The ligament will grow back during the healing process. Such newly formed tissue will offer greater carpal space for the nerve.

Exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Stretch the fingers and wrist as if they were in a hand-stand stance. Hold for five seconds.

  • Relax the fingers and wrists.

  • Create a tight fist with both hands and then bend the wrists downwards. Hold for five seconds.

  • Relax

  • Repeat the above exercises for up to ten times. Later, let the arms hang loosely on the side and shake them for a few seconds.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)