If you believe that you may be suffering from carpal tunnel, it is important to understand carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Carpal tunnel is a painful, and often debilitating disorder that can disrupt the daily life of its sufferers. To better understand this condition, you should explore this guide to carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel is a neurological disorder that results from the median nerve - a nerve that runs from the forearm to the hand - being squeezed inside the carpal tunnel at the wrist. A compressed median nerve can cause many painful symptoms including numbness, radiating pain, itching and burning.
Signs of Carpal Tunnel
The signs of carpal tunnel typically appear gradually, and then become more intense if left untreated. Some of the most common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include the following:
- Pain in hand or wrist
- Radiating pain through the forearm
- Cold hands
- Numbness in fingers and thumb
- Burning and itching sensations in hand and wrist
- Disrupted sleep do to pain or numbness in hand
- Weakness in hand demonstrated by difficulty in picking up or gripping objects
- Poor circulation that causes hand to fall asleep
- Feeling as though you need to "shake out" your hand when you wake
- Swollen hands, or feeling as though your hands are swollen even though there is no visible swelling
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Symptoms
The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are unique to each individual case, however a few causes are more common than others. In many cases, the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome may never be determined.
- Predisposition: For some, it is simply a matter of genetics as to why they suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. In many cases, the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome can be attributed to someones carpal tunnel being unusually small. A smaller carpal tunnel compresses the median nerve and causes symptoms.
- Trauma: Injuries that cause swelling of the wrist like sprains and fractures can cause carpal tunnel. The swelling from the trauma puts pressure on the median nerve, which can cause symptoms like pain, swelling, numbness, etc.
- Medical disorders: Certain medical conditions and diseases have been shown to cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
- swelling when pregnant
- developing a cyst or tumor in the wrist
- tendon inflammation from repetitive stress
- multiple myeloma
Carpal Tunnel Exercises to Alleviate Symptoms
There are certain exercises you can do to increase strength and flexibility in your hand. These exercises can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if it is in its early stages.
- Use resistance training to help strengthen your wrist. Press down on the palm of one hand with the palm of your other hand and resist the force. Then, alternate the exercise so that your opposite hand can practice the resistance training.
- One exercise to increase strength and visibility in your wrist is to make circles in the air. Hold your hand in the air and point your index and third fingers forward. Then, make clockwise circles in the air.
- A third exercise involves stretching and bending your hand and fingers. Hold your arm out in front of you. Use your free hand to bend your other hand and backward, and hold it there for five seconds. Repeat this move 5 to 10 times, and then try it with your other hand.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery for Persistent Symptoms
If the symptoms of carpal tunnel persist for a period of 6 to 12 months or longer, then surgery is usually the best option. The most common form of carpal tunnel surgery is open release surgery. This procedure may be done endoscopically - inserting a camera into the wrist to observe tissue.
Open release surgery is typically an outpatient surgery using local anesthetic. The surgeon will reduce pressure on the median nerve by cutting the ligament surrounding the carpal tunnel, thereby alleviating symptoms. Open release surgery is usually followed by physical therapy to rehabilitate the wrist and hand.
If you feel that you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, please consult your primary care provider. It is important to receive a full and proper diagnosis before beginning any treatment regimen.