Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

What Is It?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes a specific pattern of pain, sensation changes and weakness in the hand. It can be caused by overuse of the wrist and hand, inflammatory conditions, weight gain, water retention during pregnancy, and certain sports involving repetitive wrist/hand movements.
How It Happens

The tendons attached to the muscles of the forearm and hand pass beneath a fibrous sheath in the bony tunnel of the wrist. Nerves controlling the hand muscles and are responsible for sensation in the hand also pass in this tunnel.
When the tendons get inflamed and swollen, or there is excessive fluid in the tunnel, the nerves get pinched and cause weakness and altered sensation in the hand.

Women are more at risk than men. Often persons who do a lot of keyboarding or gripping tools are susceptible.

  • Burning in the hand and fingers
  • Tingling and numbness in the hand and fingers
  • Pain in the hand and fingers
  • Weakness when gripping objects
  • Altered hand sensation at night
  • Wasting of the thumb muscles

Often to diagnose CTS, a doctor will order a nerve conduction test to measure nerve function in the hand and determine whether the nerve is pinched or not.

What Should You Do?
  1. Ice the wrist area for 10-15 minutes every few hours.
  2. Open and close the hand while holding your hand above your head
  3. Check the ergonomics of your workstation and make modifications to endure neutral wrist positions (such as using a wrist rest while keyboarding). Often a professional assessment of the workstation can help address risky postures
  4. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication
  5. Physiotherapy can reduce inflammation and prescribe exercises in a proper progression towards healing
  6. For a chronic CTS that does not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be required to relieve pressure on the nerve by cutting a ligament at the wrist

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