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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is it?
The carpal tunnel is literally a tunnel in the wrist through which several tendons and the median nerve pass. The bottom of this tunnel is defined by the bones of the wrist known as the carpal bones and on top by a ligament known as the transverse carpal ligament. There is a limited amount of space in this tunnel, and therefore if the tendons become inflamed the nerve may be squeezed and compressed causing various problems.
Signs and Symptoms of this Condition
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the thumb, index and middle fingers which may worsen with movement or while sleeping
  • Stiffness or cramping in the hand especially at night
  • Weakness of the hand (frequently dropping items)
Causes
  • Repetitive hand, wrist, or finger movements
  • Using vibrating tools
  • Injury to the wrist
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • This condition is common in pregnant women
  • Genetics may also predispose a person to having this condition
Prevention
  • Taking frequent breaks during repetitive activities such as assembly lines, typing, certain sports and musical instruments, construction work, and beautician tasks
  • Smoking also increases the risk of developing this condition as well as obesity and excessive use of alcohol
What You Can Do At Home
  • Take frequent breaks from repetitive activities
  • Rest the wrist (a splint from an occupational therapist can assist with this)
  • Elevate the hand above the heart
  • Complete median nerve and tendon gliding exercises (see Median Nerve Gliding Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
  • Some studies show that taking Vitamin B6 may relieve some of the symptoms (this can also be taken in a multivitamin)
  • Contrast Baths
Treatment
  • A splint may be used to immobilize the area especially at night
  • Medications like ibuprofen may be prescribed or an anti-inflammatory injection such as cortisone may be used
  • An occupational therapist may be able to give you suggestions on how to change your set-up at work to reduce your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and other work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • Surgery may be done to release the ligament above the carpal tunnel allowing for more room for the tendons and nerve to glide
Disclaimer
The information on this website is meant for patient education and to provide home treatment options for some common muscular and skeletal injuries. It is not intended to replace your health care provider. Many are actually intended for use by your health care provider through referral to the website for appropriate self-care interventions. If your symptoms get worse; are not improving in two weeks despite treatment; or new unexplained symptoms develop, you should contact or follow-up with your health care provide