Activities and sports requiring the same motion over and over again, such as swinging a tennis racket or typing on a keyboard, can create stress on your wrists, hands, and fingers. These repetitive activities can irritate your nerves and tendons resulting in pain, swelling, and loss of muscle strength. Those symptoms together are called Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs), and one of the most common RSI’s is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Think you might have CTS? Read on to learn about the 5 common signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develops when the nerve that runs from your forearm through your wrist gets “pinched”. Your wrist bones form an arch that make up the top of your carpal “tunnel” and the bottom of the tunnel is a thick ligament that helps hold it open. The tendons that bend your fingers and the nerve that supplies the muscles and feeling to your fingers pass through this tunnel. When this “median” nerve is pinched or compressed, symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can develop.
The exact cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not known but repetitive movements, pregnancy, as well as arthritis and broken bones can cause the “compressed” nerve that leads to it. How do you know if you have CTS?
The 5 most common signs are:
- Aching, painful feeling
- Tingling or pins and needles
- Weaker grip
- Tendency to drop things
You may feel itchiness, numbness, or burning in your fingers and hand. Numbness and tingling is common in the thumb and index, middle and ring fingers. You may feel the need to shake your hand to restore feeling in your fingers. Sometimes, symptoms can be worse during the night, but they can also be felt during daily activities. Over time, as that nerve shorts out like a kinked electrical cord, the symptoms can radiate up your arm.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be treated in a variety of ways, ranging from a wrist splint to steroid injections. It can be and should be treated early, before symptoms progress and become permanent. Wearing a splint to hold your wrist in a neutral position during the day and performing exercises to stretch and straighten your wrist can help reduce the symptoms. Splinting your wrist and fingers at night, can also help decrease any swelling and lessen the pressure on the nerve.
Splinting should continue for at least 4 to 8 weeks or until your symptoms are gone. If you have worn your splint for 8 weeks and still have symptoms, it’s important to consult with your health care provider or a specialist for alternative treatments. If your nerve remains compressed, it can result in permanent damage. If recommended, a simple outpatient surgery can be very successful for long term and permanent relief of CTS.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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