Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that is commonly seen when there is numbing, pain, or tingling sensation as well as weakness experienced in the arm. It might get worse over time and hence must be quickly treated. The major nerve affected here is the median nerve which gets compressed, causing pain. The median nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the thumb, ring middle, and pinky (small) finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome mainly affects people who constantly use their wrists (eg: office workers who constantly work on computers) or fingers.
What is carpal tunnel?
Carpal tunnel is a narrow part of the wrist similar to a tunnel that allows connection of median nerves to wrists or hands. When this tunnel becomes narrow, the tissues around tendon swell. This leads to synovium (responsible for tendon lubrication) swelling as well as spreading over the carpal tunnel and causing pressure in the arm. This can lead to pain and numbness in the hand area.
Some of the symptoms that might be seen are:
- Numbness in the finger tips.
- This pain sensation can even go up to shoulder and affect it.
- Inability to perform simple motor activities like grasping a pencil or picking up small objects.
- Sudden shock like sensation in the arms.
- Weakness in the arms
- Prolonged periods of holding objects can make hands numb (for eg: holding a phone)
Some of the risk factors for developing carpal tunnel include:
- Genetics: In some people, carpal tunnel is narrower than usual and these can increase the risk of developing this syndrome.
- Prolonged use of wrists: Repetitive usage of arms (eg: typing) or rotating it repetitively in a same manner for longer time while performing certain tasks can definitely take its toll on hands.
- Medical issues: Certain diseases like Diabetes, Arthritis or Thyroid issues can increase the risk.
- Fracture or accidents involving arms
- Pregnancy: Changes in hormones occur during this phase.
- Rest: It is important to rest your arms if you are constantly working as they are a part of your body too! Take small frequent breaks.
- Switch: If you are comfortable using your non dominant hand definitely take advantage of it! For eg: If you are stirring food using right hand, switch to left hand after a while.
- Stretch: Stretch your arms, rotate and extend at periodic intervals during intense work schedules.
- Do not hold for long: Avoid holding objects for longer time in same position as that can increase the strain on your arms.
Suffering from Carpal tunnel syndrome? Here’s what to do
It is important to consult a medical professional if you experience severe pain as it can get worse over time. You can also apply cold packs to the affected area and even wear a splinter to support your arm.