The basics on carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel is the constricted passageway of bones and ligaments at the bottom of the hand that protects the tendons and the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome is basically an overuse condition in which pressure is pressed on the median nerve which controls the movement and feeling in the thumb and fingers, except the little finger. The resulting trauma can even cause the inflammation of the tendons. This condition has affected millions of individuals all over the world.

How carpal tunnel syndrome develops

Even though the exact cause of carpal tunnel syndrome tends to vary from one individual to another, the combination of certain factors can increase the pressure on the median nerve and tendons.

In some individuals, the size of the carpal tunnel is normal but outside forces such as swelling can place pressure on the nerve, resulting to painful and debilitating symptoms. Individuals who spend long hours in the office especially typing in a computer are at high risk for the condition. In sports, the repeated use of sports equipment can lead to pain.

If the condition is not treated right away, simple activities such as reading a book or combing your hair can be difficult. In severe cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb weaken. If not treated as soon as possible, the muscles will eventually lose strength and size.

Who is at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Always bear in mind that carpal tunnel syndrome is often linked with activities in the workplace, but it can also occur during sports such as tennis, skiing, badminton, bowling, golf, baseball and weight lifting. Women are more prone to the condition than men as well as middle-aged adults and those under the age of 31.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

carpal tunnel syndrome

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain in the wrists or hands
and tingling, numbness or burning sensation in the fingers or hand.

  • Pain in the wrists or hands
  • Tingling, numbness or burning sensation in the fingers or hand
  • Loss of grip strength
  • Occasional pain that radiates down to the palm or up to the shoulder or arm

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

The basic first aid for the pain is to provide over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen. A splint or brace must be used at night to immobilize the wrist.

You should also apply an ice pack or cold compress on the affected wrist for 15-20 minutes each session for 3-4 times in a day. Always stress the importance of allowing the hand and wrist to rest for 1-2 weeks.

If the symptoms persist up to 1-2 weeks or if they are severe, it is best to consult a doctor right away so that the right treatment can be provided.

Recovery period

Each individual recovers at a different rate. It usually depends on how long it takes for the condition to heal. If the individual resumes sports early, it will only lengthen the recovery period. In some cases, others can resume activity or sports in a week, while others would require 2-3 weeks. If surgery was performed, the recovery period can take up to 2 months or longer.

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