What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS for short, affects millions of people every day and although doctors know what is wrong physically with a person with CTS, it can not always be pinpointed as to why a person will develop it. Many believe that it is hereditary while others tend to believe that it can be caused by some sort of trauma, deformities, or other kinds of fractures or dislocations around the wrist. Each year there is billions of dollars paid out in workers compensation as many complain of injuring themselves on the job resulting in CTS. It is also misdiagnosed frequently due to other injuries that people face.

What Is CTS Exactly?

CTS is caused by having your “Median Nerve” compressed or pinched inside your wrist. This nerve is located inside the Carpal Tunnel which also houses your 9 Flexor Tendons. Your Carpal Tunnel is surrounded by bone on 3 sides and the Carpal Ligament on the fourth side.

There are many ways to pinch the Median Nerve. Simply bending your wrist at a 90 degree angle will compress it. Any sort of swelling of your tendons or the tunnel decreasing in size will also cause the nerve to be compressed. This will lead to a tingling or burning sensation in your hands. This can eventually lead to permanent nerve damage and muscle weakness.

CTS Symptoms

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Most symptoms related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome appear gradually. You may start feeling some numbness or paresthesia (burning sensation). It may feel as if your hand is just “falling asleep.” It is also possible to have some discomfort when sleeping as many people tend to bend their wrists when sleeping. Those diagnosed with CTS will also “drop things” uncontrollably which can be due to lack of muscle strength.

Carpal Tunnel Causes and Prevention

Although many people will argue that the causes of CTS are unknown, there are many different things that you do day to day that can help prevent the possibility of CTS. If you write or type on a regular basis, it is suggested that you take frequent breaks, at least every 20 minutes. If you happen to write a lot, using a bigger diameter pen with cushion will relieve some of the stress on your hands and wrist. If you happen to work with your hands all day you will also find comfort in relaxing your grip. Whether you are typing, writing, or working with tools, be sure to use as little force as necessary to perform your task. If you can also switch the task from hand to hand, this will help as well.

To prevent CTS even further it may be useful to wear a wrist brace or splint. This will help keep your wrist mobilized which will help prevent further aggravation. Many over the counter pain reliever drugs such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen can also help to relieve the pain and swelling of the tendons. There is also surgery available which consists of the Carpal Ligament being cut which will prevent further nerve damage and relieve pain. Using surgery may leave your hand permanently numb and there is no guarantee to the results of surgery.

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