1. What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is compression of the median nerve where it passes over the carpal bones through a tunnel in the wrist. It is a painful condition which causes swelling, tingling and numbness in the hand. It may be occur due to repetitive hand movements.
2. What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The initial symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are tingling and numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers. Further symptoms include
- Pain in the hands and fingers
- Discomfort in the forearm and upper arm
- Loss of grip strength, weakness
- Loss of manual dexterity
- Weakness and atrophy of thumb muscles
3. What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Compression can be caused by many factors like
- Wrist fracture, dislocation, arthritis
- Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity, fluid retention
- Menopause, thyroid disorders, kidney failure
- Repetitive flexing of wrist
- It is more common in women due to a relatively smaller carpal tunnel.
4. How do I know whether I am at a risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
You are at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome in the following conditions
- Work involving prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist
- Women, menopause
- Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity
- Fluid retention, thyroid disorders and kidney failure
Warning signs of this syndrome include tingling, numbness or pain in the hand.
5. How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually diagnosed by the medical history and physical examination. History of symptoms and testing for strength of muscles in hand will help in the diagnosis. Other tests include
- X-ray of the hand
- Nerve conduction studies