Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by an irritation of the Median nerve, one of the nerves that enters your wrist and supplies your hands and fingers. The word carpal refers to the 8 bones in the wrist.  The tunnel is formed on top by a ligament that runs across the carpal bones, and on the bottom by the carpal bones themselves. The median nerve runs through this tunnel and controls the feeling and muscle strength of the first three fingers, as well as the palm of your hand, exactly where people with carpal tunnel syndrome notice most of their symptoms (see diagram).  Overuse, improper use, as well as repetitive strain of the forearm and wrist are just a few of the ways this nerve gets irritated, resulting in tingling and pain in the hands and fingers.

People who do any type of repetitive movements with their hands and wrists are susceptible to this problem.  The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome is even higher in people doing activities such as sewing, assembly line work, or jobs such as manufacturing, cleaning, or fish packing.  Women are three times more likely than men to develop these symptoms as well as people with diabetes or other metabolic disorders.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome may include massage therapy, myofascial release & ART, chiropractic care, laser therapy or acupuncture.  Surgery is a common treatment offered to people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, however, depending on the cause of the irritation, conservative care might be just as effective.  Check with any of our health care practitioners or your  physician in order to properly assess whether conservative care is an option for you.

Prevention however, is always best!  If you repeatedly put strain on your wrists, take note of the following suggestions on how to keep these symptoms from coming on in the first place.  First, stretch your forearms and fingers before beginning work and at frequent intervals throughout. Secondly, alternate tasks to reduce the amount of repetitive movements that strain your wrists.  And last but not least, modify or change your daily activities that put pressure on your wrists.

Learn more at Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia.

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