Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A Pain You Can’t Ignore

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that arises from the compression of the median nerve as it travels through the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway in the wrist. This syndrome is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers, particularly affecting the thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring finger. Symptoms often manifest gradually and can worsen over time, potentially leading to weakness in the hand and difficulty grasping objects or performing fine motor tasks.

The etiology of CTS is multifaceted, involving a combination of factors that contribute to the narrowing of the carpal tunnel or increased pressure on the median nerve. These factors can include anatomical variations, wrist injuries, repetitive hand or wrist movements, prolonged positions that flex or extend the wrist, and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid disorders. Women are more frequently affected than men, possibly due to the relatively smaller size of the carpal tunnel.

Diagnosis of CTS typically involves a clinical examination, including a review of symptoms and physical tests that assess sensation, strength, and nerve function in the hand. Electrophysiological tests, such as nerve conduction studies, can confirm the diagnosis by measuring the speed and strength of nerve impulses in the hand and arm.

We Can Help
Treatment for CTS aims to relieve pressure on the median nerve and alleviate symptoms. Initial conservative approaches may include wrist splinting, especially at night, to maintain a neutral wrist position, along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief. Corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel can also provide temporary relief. Physical therapy exercises focusing on stretching and strengthening may be beneficial. In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, or if there is significant nerve damage, surgical intervention may be necessary to release the pressure on the median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament.

Early intervention is crucial in managing CTS to prevent permanent nerve damage and loss of hand function. Lifestyle modifications, ergonomic adjustments in the workplace, and regular breaks during activities that strain the wrist can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of CTS development or progression.