Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Definition and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The carpal tunnel is a band of fibrous tissue that supports the wrist joint. The median nerve travels down the forearm through this tunnel to the hand. When there is a thickening of the tendon, compression or inflammation in this tunnel, you can have pain or numbness that travels to the thumb, index and middle fingers. Symptoms are usually worse during the night or first thing in the morning. This is most likely due to flexing the wrist while sleeping. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also lead to weakness in grip strength.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Some people think carpal tunnel syndrome is most common among people who type all day at work. Surprisingly, there are more common causes. Carpal tunnel is most common among assembly line workers. Other occupations that can contribute to carpal tunnel are sewing, cleaning, using vibrating tools, and packaging meat or poultry. Other conditions that can cause carpal tunnel are pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis and many repetitive work injuries.

Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome can include the use of anti-inflammatory medication, corticosteroids, and physical therapy. A physical therapist will perform modalities such as ultrasound, massage, ice, heat and electrical stimulation to reduce inflammation and pain. A therapist will provide exercises consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises to improve the function of the hand.