Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What are the Risk Factors? - An online health& Fitness Blog to know more about health, fitness & food.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What are the Risk Factors?

In essence, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve.The median nerve is responsible for controlling the feeling and the movement in the thumb and the first three fingers (excluding the little finger). It runs from the forearm to the hand through a small space in the wrist known as the carpal tunnel.

Depending on the severity, treatment options can range from non-invasive alternatives to carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be attributed to a combination of activities (that put pressure on the median nerve) and other health conditions.

Some of the common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
  • Repeated wrist and hand movements – can cause swelling of the membranes surrounding the tendons (tenosynovitis).
  • Dislocated or broken wrist bones and bone spurs (new bone growth from bones that are healing) – takes up space in the carpal tunnel, putting pressure on the median nerve in the process.
  • Diseases or conditions – illnesses that can cause (or contribute) to joint swelling or reduced blood flow to the hands can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions include gout, lupus, diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis.
While mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome often only affect the hand, it can sometimes travel to the forearm. In some cases, it can spread up to the shoulder.

Telltale indicators of the condition includes:
  • Pain and numbness in the wrist, forearm, or hand.
  • Numbness, “pins-and-needles” sensation, and occasional tingling.
  • Pain and numbness that worsens when using the hand or the wrist (numbness and pain is more noticeable when gripping an object or flexing your wrist).
  • Stiffness in the fingers (especially evident in the mornings).
While symptoms can manifest in both hands, they are usually worse in one hand as opposed to the other.

However, not all pain in the wrist or hand can be attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. Similar symptoms can also manifest in other conditions such as:
  • Injury to the bones, muscles, ligaments, or tendons
  • Nerve problems in the elbow, neck, and fingers
  • Arthritis in the wrist or thumb joint
Risk Factors

Certain elements that can put people at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
  • Sex – women between 40 and 60 years of age are more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome. Pregnant women (especially those near the end of their pregnancies) will also likely to experience some short-term symptoms.
  • Smoking – may affect the blood flow to the median nerve and may result to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Wrist and hand movements – activities that require repeated and awkward motions.
  • Other health issues – conditions that can cause swelling of the soft tissues and the joints and reduce blood flow to the hands (lupus, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) may result to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Bone spurs – may take up space in the carpal tunnel and put stress and strain on the median nerve.
Treatment goals for carpal tunnel syndrome are:
  • Prevent nerve damage
  • Prevent loss of muscle strength in the hand and fingers
  • Allow patients to commence with usual activities
Treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
  • Home treatment – wearing a wrist splint and refraining from (or modifying) activities that may cause the symptoms.
  • Medicines – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Corticosteroid injections may also be recommended in some cases.
  • Physical therapy – this treatment option will make use of stretching, ultrasound, and range of motion exercises.
  • Surgerycarpal tunnel syndrome surgery would be the recommended option if all other conservative treatments have been futile. It is also the resort when there is nerve damage (or the risk of nerve damage).
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