Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: What Are The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of This Chronic Wrist Pain?
Carpel tunnel syndrome is seen commonly in people who use keyboards to type. (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Hands are probably the most overused part of the human body. Apart from helping you pick and place things, hands act as our instinctive shields against offence and are our primary weapon for self-defence. Modern white-collar professions don’t involve the heavy lifting involved in hard labour. But they are equally taxing on the hands. One of the repercussions of keyboard use is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the median nerve in your hand, gets compressed or squeezed at the wrist.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage of ligament and bones at the base of the hand through which the median nerve passes. The nerve is responsible for providing sensation in your palm side of the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring finger.

Consultant neurologist Dr. Krishnan PR from Fortis, Bangalore describes carpal tunnel syndrome as a combination of numbness and pain. “Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition, in which the median nerves of the wrists get irritated and creates a numbness of the thumb, middle and index fingers,” he explains.

What Are The Risks of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Women are more at risk of developing the disorder. “People who are continuously involved in typing on the keyboard are more prone to the condition,” says Dr. Krishnan. “Everyday activities like typing affects the median nerve due to the positioning of the wrist, while using the keyboard or the mouse at the workplace.”

What Are The Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The primary cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is the pressure on the median nerve. It is seen in certain health conditions like:

• Obesity

• Hypothyroidism

• Arthritis

• Diabetes

• High blood pressure

• Fractures

What Are The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include an unpleasant tingling sensation, pain and numbness in the area through which the median nerve passes. This includes the thumb, index, middle finger and a part of the ring finger. These symptoms tend to worsen at night. During the day, the symptoms can cause clumsiness, often causing sufferers to drop things and have trouble picking things up. Here are some of the common symptoms:

• The tingling sensation or numbness in the fingers

• A sudden pain in the wrist that goes all the way to the hands

• A weakness of the hand and tendency to drop things

• A burning sensation that can even stay for a prolonged period

• Disturbance in the sleep due to pain at night

People with carpal tunnel say that a flick of the wrist helps in relieving symptoms.

How To Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

As painful as the condition is, carpal tunnel syndrome is also easy to prevent. Dr. Krishnan recommends the following tips to prevent the pain:

Correct the posture: Posture: It is important to have a correct posture as it directly affects the wrists and the fingers. • Paying attention to the hand posture is important to make sure that the activity does not involve overextension of the wrists

Treat underlying conditions: Conditions like diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure should not be neglected and treated properly because it can create tension in the median nerves as well.

Take a break: If your work involves the use of hands and fingers to a great extent, take breaks and gently stretch your hands and wrists.

Reduce the strain: Use a mouse that is comfortable and does not put a strain on your wrists.

How To Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome includes conservative and surgical methods, where conservative treatment involves steroids, NSAIDS, vitamin B6 and B12, yoga, ultrasound and hand splints.

“For mild symptoms, you may apply ice to heal the pain. However, if the pain persists over a week or two, it is recommended to consult a doctor. The doctor would recommend medication or injections depending on the condition,” says Dr. Krishnan.