What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is squeezed. This nerve is present in the carpal tunnel located in the wrist. When this tunnel shrinks, the nerve is compressed, causing inflammation. This results in tingling, numbness, hand pain and weakness. After lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the common work-related injuries. Women are more at risk. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in elders above 50 years.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Wrist injury or trauma
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, low thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, etc
- Repetitive wrist or hand movements such as during uninterrupted typing
- Tumors or cysts
- Frequently using vibrating hand equipment
- Wrists that are too small
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Numbness in fingers
- Pain in the hand extending up to the elbows
- Burning or tingling sensation in the forearm, wrist and hand
- Inability to differentiate between cold and hot
- Difficulty in gripping tiny objects
- Fingers that look swollen
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
First, the underlying cause such as arthritis or diabetes should be treated. Your physician may ask you to rest your wrist and hand, using a splint or brace. This will help ease the pressure on the median nerve.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is used to relieve some carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. To treat the pain, doctors may recommend acetylsalicylic acid, naproxen, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Corticosteroids may also be injected inside the carpal tunnel to relieve pain and swelling. Heat and cold application can also be effective. Severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome need surgery.
How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- To protect your wrist, shift your keyboard to a comfortable position
- Adopt proper posture while sitting at the keyboard
- Take frequent breaks from work
- Do stretching exercises at your desk
- Adjust the height of your chair and keyboard to get optimum comfort
- Obese individuals should try to reduce their weight to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome