Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful, progressive joint issue that involves the hand and arm and is the result of damage to median nerve as it enters the wrist through the flexor retinaculum also known as the carpal tunnel.
Assessment and Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome should be performed by a Registered Physiotherapist.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a small passageway that ensures the safe transit of the median nerve and tendons of 9 important muscles responsible for your hand movements. When the integrity of this passageway is impeded, there is a greatly increased risk of damage to the median nerve. This, in turn, may result in pain, weakness of movement and tingling or numbness in the palm and fingers of the hand, usually the thumb and forefinger. This condition is called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The simplest of things may increase the chances of being impacted by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. For example, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is three times more common in women than in men because women typically have smaller carpal tunnels. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also three times more common in assembly line workers than in data entry clerks due to the nature of the repetitive tasks required on assembly lines. More serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes or arthritis (which cause swelling) and habits such as smoking (which reduce the blood flow to the carpal tunnel) may also be underlying causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a progressive condition that presents in its early stages with intermittent and random pain in the wrist area, parts of hand and along the forearm. If left untreated, it may lead to:
– numbness of the hand and fingers especially after the wrist has been flexed for an extended period of time, i.e. during sleep;
– a more marked numbness in the thumb and index finger but which excludes the little finger;
– weak grip and loss of wrist power, manifested by a tendency to drop things;
– inability to differentiate between hot and cold based by touch;
– in more extreme cases, muscles at the base of the thumb may atrophy.
How does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develop?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a fairly common condition and greatly depends on the natural anatomy of the hand; the presence of certain medical conditions; and the demands of an individual’s work. Although these risk factors can increase the possibility of damage to median nerve, in most situations two or more risk factors are required to produce significant damage to median nerve and result in clinical symptoms.
Recognized risk factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are:
– Occupational: Occupations that involve prolonged flexing or bending of wrist joint increase the pressure on median nerve and increase the likelihood of damage to the nerves. The more recognized occupational risks include typing without properly supporting the wrist; repeated use of heavy equipment and vibrating tools such as drills; and any work that involves prolonged bending of wrist which includes anything from working on an assembly line to meat packing to sewing and cleaning.
– Medical: Physiological conditions such as pregnancy and menopause increase fluid retention of the body and may lead to accumulation within the tissues producing swelling. This may not be a problem in other parts of the body but fluid accumulation in the carpal tunnel greatly increases the pressure on median nerve and may result in symptomatic nerve damage. Other conditions that may also affect fluid equilibrium in the body are thyroid disorders, diabetes, obesity and kidney failure.
– Joint Inflammation: Certain joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or infection of a joint or tendons of the wrist after a trivial or serious injury may also lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
– Additional factors: Certain lifestyle conditions such as alcoholism act as an additional factors that may aggravate the damage to the median nerve in the presence of other risk factors
Certain injuries like wrist fractures or dislocation of carpal bones may also alter the space and integrity of carpal tunnel leading to median nerve damage.
The Physiotherapists at Ace Physio are excellent at assessing and treating Carpal Tunnel using conservative methods, that carry far less risk than surgery.
If you think that you may be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome book an assessment with one of our Registered Physiotherapists today!
Call Ace Physio now at 416-900-6653