Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful condition that affects the wrist, fingers and – in some instances – the forearm. The carpal canal or tunnel is a very small space in the wrist that connects the palm and the forearm. Several tendons and the median nerve pass through the carpal canal. The median nerve is one of the 5 main nerves that run from the shoulder to the fingers. If the canal swells or deteriorates, it can place pressure on the tendons and median nerve resulting in tingling, significant discomfort, and/or pain. Since the median nerve controls various finger and hand movement, much of that discomfort manifests in both the hand and wrist, though in some cases the symptoms may extend in the forearm.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Aging and arthritis
  • Repetitive movement, especially if it involves bending the wrist downward
  • Wrist injuries
  • Bone spurs
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
Women have a higher proclivity to develop this syndrome as their carpal tunnels are significantly smaller than males.

What are the primary symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain in the fingers, hand, and/or forearm
Symptoms most frequently manifest in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. Symptoms never manifest in the “pinkie,” so if you experience pain in all fingers except the pinkie, it is likely that you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms are often most prevalent at night and you may be able to relief pain temporarily by shaking the hand vigorously.

What are the treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • If possible, limit or cease activities that trigger symptoms and aggravate the condition. At the very least, rest the wrist occasionally when performing said activities.
  • Wear a carpal tunnel brace or wrist support when at the computer or participating in activities that involve repetitive wrist movement.
  • Ice the wrist for 10 minutes 1 or 2 times an hour.
  • Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling.
  • Wear a carpal tunnel wrist splint at night.
The sooner you start treating the syndrome, the more likely you will prevent permanent nerve damage, so as soon as you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you should begin strategizing a treatment plan. In some instances the pain is just too intense and persistent, making surgery the best option. Surgery can increase the circumference of the carpal tunnel, thus reducing pressure on the nerve.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of hot and cold therapy units and medical braces, including a comprehensive collection of carpal tunnel therapy braces. MMAR Medical also offers one of the largest selections of support braces for pain and postoperative recovery.

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