If your regular job requires you to type on a computer keyboard very frequently, you may begin to experience discomfort in your finger joints. That discomfort however can sudden turn into a sharp pain that sends you crying to your doctor. This painful condition is known as carpal tunnel syndrome, and is the result of a compression of a critical nerve located in the wrist.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The nerve that runs from your forearm right down into your palm is a key one. When this nerve becomes squeezed for an extended period of time, it causes a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. The nerve in question (called median nerve) controls sensations in your fingers and palm, in addition to impulses in certain tiny muscles in your hand that determine the movement of your fingers.
The carpal tunnel itself is a rigid and narrow passageway of bones and ligaments located at the base of your hand. The inside of the carpal tunnel is where you find the tendons and median nerve. Now, it becomes obvious to see that when the tendons and ligaments are irritated, they can swell up. This augmentation in volume causes the carpal tunnel to narrow even further. This is what causes the sharp pain mentioned earlier. The pain may be followed by numbness and weakness in the wrist and hand areas. This leads us to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms start progressively and manifest themselves through burning, itching and tingling in the fingers and palm. This discomfort is even more pronounced in your thumb, index and middle fingers. Certain people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome claim that their fingers feel swollen and useless, though you can see any visible signs of swelling. In fact, the feeling is so painfully uncomfortable; a person with this syndrome can wake up in the morning feeling the need to shake out their hand or wrist. So in the early stages, the pain happens in the morning whereas it spreads out throughout the day as the condition is left untreated.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatment
It is advised that you begin treatments for this condition as early as possible, and of course under a doctor’s supervision or direction. Now if you have other illnesses such as arthritis and/or diabetes, these should be treated first.
Initially, the doctor will suggest you rest the affected wrist and hand as much as possible for a minimum of 2 weeks. In other words, you will be advised to avoid activities that will worsen your condition. Your wrist will have to be immobilized with a splint to prevent further damage that occur when you bend or twist your hand
There are non-surgical and surgical treatments depending on the gravity of your disorder. Non-surgical methods involve non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, exercising (such as stretching) and alternative therapies (i.e acupuncture and gua sha).