What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. The roof of the tunnel is a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament. Because these boundaries are very rigid, the carpal tunnel has little capacity to “stretch” or increase in size.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tunnel becomes narrowed or when tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell, putting pressure on the median nerve. These tissues are called the synovium. Normally, the synovium lubricates the tendons, making it easier to move your fingers. When the synovium swells, it takes up space in the carpal tunnel and, over time, crowds the median nerve. The median nerve is one of the main nerves in the hand. It originates as a group of nerve roots in the neck. These roots come together to form a single nerve in the arm. The median nerve goes down the arm and forearm, passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist, and goes into the hand. The nerve provides feeling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The nerve also controls the muscles around the base of the thumb.
This abnormal pressure on the median nerve is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. This then leads to numbness, tingling and weakness in your hand.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Burning, tingling, or itching numbness in your palm and thumb or your index and middle fingers
- Weakness and clumsiness in your hand and trouble holding things or doing simple things like buttoning your shirt
- Shock-like feelings that move into your fingers
- Tingling that moves up into the forearm toward the shoulder. These symptoms often occur while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper, or may wake you from sleep.
- Dropping things, due to weakness, numbness, or a loss of proprioception (awareness of where your hand is in space)
The common causes for wrist pain could be from the following activities:
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in everyday life
- Repetitive motions, like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over. This is especially true of things you do when your hands are lower than your wrists. This could include:
- Stringing and playing a musical instrument
- Health conditions that can damage the nerve:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity – which results in fluid accumulation in the spaces around the tissues in the carpal tunnel .
- Pregnancy – hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause swelling and fluid retention.
- Gender – women are three times more likely than men to get carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because women tend to have smaller carpal tunnels.
- Heredity – family history of small carpal tunnels.
- Injury – fracturing or dislocating your wrist, or arthritis that deforms the small bones in the wrist, can alter the space within the carpal tunnel and put pressure on the median nerve.
Wrist Pain FAQs
In mild cases, carpal tunnel syndrome may improve without surgery through conservative treatments like wrist splints, physiotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. However, more severe cases may require surgical intervention.
The recovery time for carpal tunnel varies based on its severity and the chosen treatment. With non-surgical approaches, it may take several weeks to months. Surgical cases typically require a few weeks to a few months for full healing.
Yes, physiotherapy can be beneficial for carpal tunnel syndrome. Therapists use Ultrasound,Laser ,exercises, nerve gliding techniques, and wrist splints to relieve symptoms and improve hand function. Early intervention can lead to better outcomes.
Massage therapy can provide temporary relief from carpal tunnel symptoms, but it might not address the root cause. Combining massage with other treatments like physiotherapy offers a more comprehensive approach to manage the condition.
Lifting weights may exacerbate carpal tunnel symptoms, especially if not performed with proper technique and wrist support. It's best to consult a physiotherapist or healthcare professional for safe exercise modifications.
Tendinitis can heal naturally with adequate rest, avoiding aggravating activities, and applying ice. Physiotherapy and targeted exercises can further aid in healing and reduce the risk of recurrence when the condition is properly managed.
Tendinitis is generally not permanent. With appropriate care, including rest, physiotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments, tendinitis can heal completely. However, chronic or severe cases may take longer to recover fully.
To manage arthritis in the hands, maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage stress, exercise regularly, use joint protection techniques, and seek physiotherapy for strengthening exercises and pain relief strategies.
Ulnar pain can indicate various conditions, including ulnar nerve compression or injury. While not always serious, it's essential to have it evaluated by a healthcare professional or physiotherapist to identify the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.