What is Carpal Tunnel?
According to the Mayo Clinic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
“Carpal tunnel syndrome is a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist.”
In layman’s terms this means that the opening through which the nerves, tendons and blood vessels to the hand has decreased in size. This can be caused by inflammation, swelling, obesity and/or partial (or full) collapse of the Carpal Tunnel. Sometimes Carpal Tunnel syndrome is the result of an injury but most of the time it is the result of a commonly repeated motion such as swinging a hammer or typing on a computer.
The carpal bones
Another common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is a misalignment of the carpal bones themselves. The carpals consist of two rows of four bones (eight total) in the wrist that that are prone to mechanical problems from repetitive stress such as using a keyboard, hand tools or machinery. When the carpals push too far forward, they narrow the size of the carpal tunnel. This results in irritation and inflammation to the nerve itself.
When this happens, the Median Nerve is affected causing symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pain, grip strength loss, hand fatigue and muscle atrophy of the hand. The median nerve controls sensation and muscles of the palm and first three digits (but typically not the little finger).
If you have any of the following symptoms you should be evaluated for potential Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Pain in the Wrist
- Pins & Needles in Hands
- Numbness or Pain in Arms
- Difficulty Grabbing Objects
- Elbow Pain
- Difficulty Writing
The following conditions must also be ruled out:
- Cervical Neuropathies
- Pronator Teres Syndrome
- Arthritic Conditions
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Diabetic Neuropathies