Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. It happens because of compression of your median nerve through a passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The median controls the movement and feeling of your thumb and the movement of all your fingers except your little finger.
Carpal tunnel has limited space; therefore anything that decreases this space can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. It is more common in the following conditions:
- Professions involving repetitive motions of the wrist like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over. E.g. Bike rider, knitter, baker, cashier, hairstylist, musician, typists
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Fracture or dislocate your wrist
- The woman also have more risk of getting CTS
Your doctor will ask about your history and perform certain tests to provoke your symptoms.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel include:
- Burning, tingling, numbness, decreased sensations or sometimes shock-like sensations in your palm, thumb index and middle fingers
- Weakness in your hand leading to weak grip and trouble holding things
- Tingling that moves up into your arm
- During the day, your symptoms might flare up while you’re holding something with your wrist bent, like when you’re driving or reading a book.
- Your doctor may tap the front side of your wrist, a test called Tinel sign, or fully flex your wrist with your arms extended to provoke the symptoms to make the diagnosis.
The doctor might suggest tests to diagnose CTS or other mimicking diseases and to plan treatment:
- Imaging tests: X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI exams can let your doctor look at your bones and tissues.
- Electromyography: Your doctor puts a thin electrode into a muscle to measure its electrical activity.
- Nerve conduction studies: Your doctor tapes electrodes to your skin to measure the signals in the nerves of your hand and arm.
Your treatment will depend on your symptoms and the progression of the disease. You might need:
- Lifestyle changes: Avoid activity that causes pain or symptoms
- Exercises: Stretching or strengthening moves can make you feel better.
- Immobilization: Your doctor may advise you to wear a splint to keep your wrist from moving and to lessen pressure on your nerves.
- Medication: Your doctor may give you anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid shots to decrease the swelling and improve the symptoms.
- Surgery: If none of those treatments works, you might have an operation called carpal tunnel release that increases the size of the tunnel and eases the pressure on your nerve.
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