The wrist bones – called the carpals – have a narrow tunnel through them that is surrounded by bone and ligaments. This space lets certain tendons and the median nerve pass from the forearm into the hand.
With carpal tunnel syndrome, the tendon sheaths may thicken and enlarge. This reduces the amount of space inside the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve may be compressed. When carpal tunnel syndrome is present, the associated tingling and numbness in the hands can make even simple tasks hard to perform.
Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night.
Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure exerted on the median nerve at the point where it passes through the wrist. The median nerve supplies sensation to the thumb-side of the palm, and to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the thumb-side of the ring finger. It also supplies movement to part of the hand.
The condition occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old, and is five times more common in women than men. Some of the conditions associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome and menopause. This is probably because of hormone changes that cause fluid retention and swelling of the tissues.
Other conditions associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure, diabetes, acromegaly, hypothyroidism, multiple myeloma, obesity, recent tuberculosis, fungal infection and high blood pressure.
Injury or trauma to the area, including (but not limited to) repetitive movement of the wrists, can cause swelling of the tissues and carpal tunnel syndrome. This type of injury may be caused by sports such as racquetball and handball, use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate), or similar activities.
Fortunately, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is rarely the cause of wrist pain. It is very common for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to be incorrectly diagnosed.
The presence of wrist/hand pain or numbness does not mean that CTS is present. These symptoms can also occur with mechanical wrist problems, tendonitis, or nerve compression in the forearm, shoulder, and neck. All of these other potential causes of wrist pain and hand numbness respond very favorably to chiropractic treatment.
Your doctor or chiropractor is trained to determine whether your condition is a true carpal tunnel syndrome or an imposter.
Often many suffers of CTS are first prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. While effective, this only temporarily alleviates the pain and swelling, but does not treat the actual problem.
In extreme cases surgery (called carpal tunnel release) may be recommended.
Surgery should only be considered after all conservative treatment options have failed to improve the condition.