Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm. In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. Early on, symptoms can often be relieved with simple measures like wearing a wrist splint or avoiding certain activities. If pressure on the median nerve continues, however, it can lead to nerve damage and worsening symptoms. To prevent permanent damage, surgery to take pressure off the median nerve may be recommended for some patients. So, you need to see your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that interferes with your normal activities and sleep patterns.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Often, people don’t know what brought on their carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be due to:
- Repetitive motions, like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over. This is especially true of things you do when your hands are lower than your wrists.
- Conditions like hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes
- A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve
Many times, there is no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. It may be that a combination of risk factors contributes to the condition.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Certain conditions increase your risk for developing it.
Although they may not directly cause carpal tunnel syndrome, they may increase the risk of irritation or damage to the median nerve.
- Smaller carpal tunnels are more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome
- Being female because of having smaller tunnels
- Nerve damaging conditions or chronic illnesses such as diabetes increase your risk
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity being obese
- Fluid retention Common during pregnancy and menopause
- Medical conditions such as thyroid disorder, kidney failure, and lymphedema
- Workplace factors Working with vibrating tools, or on an assembly line if repetitive flexing of the wrist is involved
- Computer Work The use of the mouse and not the use of a keyboard.
The scientific evidence is conflicting, and their factors haven’t been established as direct causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Preventative Measures For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Unfortunately, there are no proven strategies to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, but if you have one or more risk factors, it’s useful to understand the measures you can take to minimize stress on your hands and wrist to reduce your chances of acquiring the condition. Reduce your force and relax your grip. Often, people use more force than is needed to perform small tasks. For example, if your work involves typing then hit the keys softly. If you write a lot, then choose a big pen with a soft grip adapter and free-flowing ink and apply only light pressure to the paper. Take frequent breaks and perform simple exercises. If you are working on repetitive wrist motions you should periodically, for example, every hour, take a break. It’s also worth alternating repetitive tasks if possible and rotating them with colleagues if possible. If you use vibrating equipment or perform tasks that require a lot of force, it’s particularly important to rest and alternate to prevent CTS. Performing simple hand, wrist, and finger exercises for four to five minutes every hour may be helpful in preventing CTS. This will help relax and also strengthen the muscles in your wrists and hands and improve blood flow to these areas. You can try gentle stretching and shaking exercises for your hand, wrist, and fingers including wrist bend (forward and back), wrist lifts, wrist flexes, finger bends, wrist stretches with weights, and hand squeezes. Watch your form and posture. Avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down. Keeping your wrist in a relaxed middle position is best. Keep your hand warm. You are more likely to develop hand pain and stiffness if you work in a cold environment.
Contact Us (859-331-3100) For More Information to Request an Appointment
Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology is the first and largest Rheumatology practice in the Northern Kentucky area. Founded by Dr. Arthur Kunath in 1986, our rheumatology practice now consists of six doctors who are board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and a Physician Assistant. Patients see one doctor (except in emergencies), thereby assuring continuity of care and an individualized doctor-patient atmosphere giving the physician the ability to establish personalized and detailed relationships. Our doctors have received numerous awards, including being listed as “Top Doctors” in Cincinnati Magazine, receiving the Patient’s Choice Award, the Most Compassionate Doctor Award, and the American College of Rheumatology’s “My Doc Rocks” award.