Find out what carpal tunnel syndrome is, how it’s diagnosed, and 5 tips to treat it without surgery.
Our hands are so important to everyday life. We write, eat, work, hold our children, and even talk with our hands. We generally take them for granted, until something happens and we are no longer able to use them as we did before.
By far the most common ailment affecting my patients’ hands is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), which causes tingling and numbness in the fingers. It’s quite common, and can affect anyone at any age, but tends to occur more in women and in those who are overweight. Most of the time, it is triggered by our daily routine activities. Since it’s such a common medical issue, I’d like to give you some tips on its causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There is a band of tissues encircling our wrists that includes ligaments and tendons. Then there’s a nerve that runs through this band of tissues called the “median nerve.” The median nerve feeds the sensation in our first three and a half fingers, starting with the thumb. It does not affect our pinky finger.
When this band becomes inflamed and thickened, it compresses the median nerve and we start to experience tingling and numbness in those fingers.
What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Initially, symptoms of tingling and numbness typically occur in the middle of the night. But if left untreated, they can progress into the daytime as well. When severe and chronic enough, some patients start to get weakness in the entire hand. They may no longer be able to open jars and drop objects held in the affected hand. As its severity progresses, the hand loses functioning.
Who Gets Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Any repetitive movements or prolonged inflammation of the wrist can cause CTS. For instance, CTS is very common in those who work with their hands. I see this commonly in patients who do a lot of typing, construction, or carpentry. In addition, those with hobbies requiring fine motor skills of the hands, such as beading or knitting, can also develop CTS. Pregnant women commonly get CTS as well, since the increase in fluid retention in the wrist can also compress the nerve.