Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm in to the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or pinched at the wrist. The median nerve controls the sensation to the palm side of the thumb and fingers. If the tendons become irritated it may cause thickening of the carpal tunnel which is a narrow rigid passageway of ligament and bones. This may cause pressure against the nerve and result in pain, weakness or numbness.
There are various factors that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome including congenital reasons where the carpal tunnel is simply small. Other contributing factors can combine to cause the resultant carpal tunnel syndrome including trama or injury to the wrist, mechanical problems in the wrist joint, work stress, repeated use of certain tools, etc. In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked to diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis and even due to fluid retention during pregnancy.
Symptoms usually take place gradually and include burning, tingling or numbness in the palm of the hand or in the fingers, especially in the thumb, index and middle or ring fingers but not in the little finger. Many people wake with these sensations and feel the need to shake out their hands.
Early diagnosis and treatment to prevent damage to the median nerve. A thorough physical examination of the wrists, hands, arms, shoulders and neck may be done to determine if the pain may be due to an underlying cause. Lab tests and x-rays may also be ordered to rule out other conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and fractures. Often a Nerve Conduction Study will be requested in order to determine the severity of damage to the nerve.