By CATIE WOLF, OTD, OTR/L
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition in the hand and wrist where a nerve is being compressed or pinched. This condition results in numbness and tingling typically felt on the palm side of your hand. The area between the wrist and hand is bound with bones and ligaments creating a passageway called the carpal tunnel. This narrow tunnel holds a main nerve to your hand and tendons that allow you to bend your wrist and fingers. This main nerve is called the median nerve. The nerve controls movement and feeling to your hand/fingers. The nerve supplies your thumb and first three fingers. Your pinky is supplied by a different nerve.
Symptoms of CTS include: Numbness/tingling and hand pain that can lead to hand weakness. This hand weakness may cause you to drop items or notice difficulty gripping objects. This can affect your ability to use your hand throughout your day.
Causes of CTS include: Repetitive gripping, repetitive vibration, constant pressure over the nerve (example: uninterrupted typing), swelling in wrist causing tunnel to get smaller, making hand movements over and over again, especially movements where you have to bend your wrist down.
Common conditions related to CTS include: pregnancy, obesity, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes and trauma.
Treatments of CTS include: Stopping or decreasing activities causing the pain, numbness and tingling; ice your wrist/hand; wear a splint; occupational/physical therapy; medication to reduce pain and swelling; and possibly surgery called carpal tunnel release.
Your chances of getting rid of the symptoms and preventing long term damage to the nerve can be reduced the sooner you get treatment for your symptoms.
Talk to your healthcare provider, if you believe you are suffering from CTS.
Catie Wolf is an occupational therapist at ProMedica Total Rehab in Fostoria.
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