According to statistics, 1 in every 20 Americans will suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, and that’s a lot of people. Imagine the number of people here in Mesa alone who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
In case you aren’t sure about what carpal tunnel syndrome is, here is a more technical definition, followed by an easy explanation.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand — the median nerve — is compressed or squeezed as it travels through the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway, about an inch wide, in the wrist. The tunnel sides and floor are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tunnel becomes narrowed or when the tissues surrounding the flexor tendons swell, putting pressure on the median nerve. These tissues are called the synovium. Normally, the synovium lubricates the tendons, making it easier to move your fingers. When the synovium swells, it takes up space in the carpal tunnel and, over time, crowds the nerve. This abnormal pressure on the nerve can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand.
Simply put, because of changes in the structure of your hand, and often a combination of other factors, extra pressure is put on the major nerve. This can cause a variety of problems. The major symptoms that we see fall into the following categories:
- Numbness, tingling, burning, itching and pain in the fingers.
- Sensations of pain or tingling that travel up the forearm and into the shoulder.
- Weakness and clumsiness in your hand – even buttons may become challenging.
- Frequently dropping things because of the weakness or the numbness you feel.
- Shock-like sensations can also occur. These shocks can radiate to the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many different things. One cause is simple overuse, such as working on a computer all day, assembly line work, sewing or playing a string instrument. A wrist sprain or fracture, as well as arthritis, can begin the process. Diabetes, obesity, inflammatory diseases and pregnancy can all increase the likelihood of this condition. Women are three times more likely than men to develop this syndrome.
Initially, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may be mild. The pain, tingling or weakness might come on gradually, or be intermittent. Unfortunately, if you don’t do anything about it, the symptoms will most likely worsen and cause permanent nerve damage. Eventually, even everyday tasks like picking up a pen or holding a mug may become difficult and sometimes impossible.
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. We encourage you to consider PT as your first option before medication, injections or surgery. Physical therapy includes specific stretching and hands-on work by the therapist, specialized nerve-muscle treatments, gentle exercises and the use of equipment such as ultrasound to reduce inflammation.
Be sure to stretch and exercise your hands. If possible, try to cut back on the work you may be doing that is causing the your condition. It’s important to have a physical evaluation by a professional before engaging in any specific stretches or exercises, as you could accidentally cause your carpal tunnel syndrome to worsen rather than improve.
MDM Physical Therapy is located in Mesa, which is the third largest city in the state, and the 38th largest city in the country.
We are here to help with your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms.
Give us a call today!