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What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

By Hege Crowton

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, then maybe you are suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: do you experience tingling of your thumb? How about your index, middle, and ring fingers? Are you always awaken by pain during the night? Does the pain go away by moving, shaking, or massaging such hand? Does the pain sometimes extend to the arm and the shoulder? Do you have numbness? Are there times when you feel uncomfortable using your hands you feel that your dexterity is lost?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the condition which affects the wrist and the hand of the patient. It involves a space in the wrist that is surrounded by bones and a rigid ligament. Such space is called the carpal tunnel.

The muscles and tendons are brought into action by moving the wrist and the finger. It is important that the tendons are lubricated to ensure optimal functioning. If the tendons are not lubricated, friction exists between the tendon and the tendon sheath which leads to swelling in that area. The inflammation damages the median nerve by causing formation of fibrous tissue which thickens the sheath and limits tendon movement.

The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is common. Symptoms of the disorder were noted in 614 out of 982 supermarket checkers in one survey, and 52 in 700 employees of an electronic manufacturing plant. 117 in 788 meat handlers had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. A survey showed that an average of 65 carpal tunnel operations have been performed by 400 American hand surgeons each year.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is usually seen in individuals who do a lot of repetitive hand motions, strong and tight gripping, vibration, and whose job entails that they undergo mechanical stress on their palm. Awkward hand positions will also predispose one to develop the disorder.

Those occupations that are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows: cashiers, typists, knitters, cloth sewers and hairdressers. Those who work in the bakery who always do repetitive flexing-extending wrist movement while kneading may also develop the disorder eventually, along with those whose job entails they use a spray paint gun for hours and other vibrating hand tools. The disorder has been associated with several diseases. These include arthritis, tendon sheath tumors, hypothyroidism, gout, and Diabetes Mellitus. Wrist dislocations and fractures are also risk factors to developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The prolonged use of oral contraceptive pills has been associated with increased risk for CTS, as well as menopause and pregnancy. These diseases and physiological events supposedly increase the risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because they cause the swelling of the structures inside the carpal tunnel which compresses the median nerve.

Some anatomical variations such as the size and shape of the wrist may also increase the risk of getting CTS. Some symptoms experienced by patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome present with weakness of the hand, making it hard to use the hand in pinching or grasping. Dry skin may also be experienced.

Evaluating carpal tunnel syndrome always starts with evaluating the risk that the person's job has with CTS. The physician will ask about the patient's employment, what goes on in a typical day's work, and the frequency and regularity of the tasks the patient performs at work.

The physician will perform physical examination called the Tinel's test and Phalen's test. In performing the Tinel's test, the doctor will tap the wrist of the patient in the median nerve area and if the maneuver will result to tingling of the finger, it indicates damage to the median nerve. The Phalen's test is when the patient bends the wrist for a minute and he feels finger tingling. These two tests will help the physician greatly in the evaluation and diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. This will also help the physician to evaluate if the patient needs surgery for the carpal tunnel syndrome.

The physician may also order for electromyography to measure how fast the median nerve transmits messages to muscles. This is a good indication of the status of the median nerve.

If you think that you are experiencing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is best to seek consult from a qualified physician to evaluate the disorder.

There are other risks as you sit in front of that computer but it would be to much to write about in this article, so if you would like to learn more about other risks such as:

  • Eye strain

  • RSI (Repetitive Stress Syndrome)

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Constant Head Aches

  • Dizziness

  • Breathing Problems

  • Difficulty Concentrating

You can learn all about this in the book: "The Painless PC"

About The Author
Hege Crowton is establishing herself as an expert copywriter. She is known for doing in-depth research before writing her articles.Copyright 2005 HealthCrow.com


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