Commonly referred to as CTS, carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of entrapment of the median nerve at the wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by anything that irritates, restricts, or inflames the median nerve. Repetitive hand and wrist motions – which are common in a wide range of activities – are the most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
While carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t a life-threatening condition, the pain it causes can drastically affect lifestyle choices, and the constant discomfort can be much more than irritating.
It’s estimated that 1 in 20 women suffer from CTS, and 3% of men, mostly for people 45-64.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms include:
- Pain in the wrist of lower palm area. This can happen suddenly, or gradually over time.
- Numbness or tingling in the wrist. If you feel the need to shake your hands awake frequently, it may be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Loss of grip strength, and/or inability to comfortably grasp smaller objects.
Pregnant women, people with diabetes, and people with obesity are more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome.
If left untreated, CTS can cause a severe loss of sensitivity, especially to the thumb, wrist and arm. Inability to tell the temperature of something is a possible outcome.
More than 50 percent of the diagnosed cases of CTS are thought to be work related. The entrapment is caused by a rise in pressure of the defined space where the median nerve accompanies the flexor tendons as they pass under the flexor retinaculum which is a fibrous sheath to prevent fraying of the tendons.
Through some types of repetitive movements such as typing, or using hand tools, the consistent flexion and extension at the wrist and increased tendon sheath thickening give rise to increased carpal tunnel pressure resulting in pain and tingling in the hands.
Carpal tunnel syndrome pain is worse sometimes at night or in the morning. The tingling can be well localized or diffuse in the second and middle fingers. Abduction of the thumb is sometimes weak or impaired along with atrophy in more severe cases. Tapping over the wrist at the base of the palm causing a lightening sensation of tingling in the hand is a good clinical indication that a patient may have CTS.