With prevalence rates of 5.8 percent in the general adult population, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common neuropathic condition to be reported.
It’s essential that we identify its symptoms at an early stage and get treatment ASAP as it can permanently impair mobility.
Here’s a fact sheet for the most fundamental information about carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?
CTS is a common entrapment neuropathy that occurs when the median nerve running from the forearm to the palm is affected or damaged. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway where bones and ligaments meet at the base of your hand.
This rigid tunnel houses the median nerve and tendons that control the movement of the fingers and sensory feelings in the hand. The median nerve navigates sensations in the thumb, index and ring fingers.
Irritation of the tendons and swelling can constrict the pathway and put undue pressure on the median nerve. It’s in this compromising state that the nerve is not able to function at full capacity. This is why you experience symptoms like numbness, pain in the wrist or hand, weakness in the arms, and reduced dexterity.
What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The early signs of CTS include burning, itching, or tingling numbness in the palm of your hand and fingers. The thumb, index finger, and middle finger suffer the most because they’re directly connected to the median nerve.
Some patients have even reported swelling in fingers and loss of sensation. However, swelling is not a frequent symptom across the board. As the problem aggravates, you may experience a loss of grip strength and affected motor skills. Simple tasks such as lifting a pen or carrying a book may become difficult or impossible to do.
If the condition becomes chronic, you may lose complete sense of hot and cold, and the muscles at the base of your wrist may become damaged irreparably.
What Are the Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are many instances in which your carpal tunnel can contract and result in a neuropathic condition. Some of them include trauma due to accident or injury to the wrist that swells up the carpal tunnel such as a sprain or fracture, or even rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be caused by a hyperactive pituitary gland or an affected thyroid gland.
Manual exertion can also put you at risk of developing this condition. Mechanical labor such as using vibrating hand tools can cause stress in the wrist joints.
Pregnancy and menopause are two peak times when women experience fluid retention which swells the wrist and compresses the median nerve.
The development of a cyst or tumor in the carpal tunnel can further worsen the condition.
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