Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

By Lilija Meadows, Anatomy Block 3

Victims of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are several factors for possible victims of this disease:
  • 1. Gender: Women are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed than men.
  • 2. Age: CTS is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60 years old.
  • 3. Disease: Certain conditions that increase your risk include: Diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
  • 4. Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors that may increase this risk include: Smoking, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, and a high body mass index (BMI).
  • 5. Hands-on occupations: Jobs that involve repetitive wrist movement include manufacturing, assembly line work, keyboarding occupations, and construction work. People employed in these areas of work may be at higher risk for developing CTS.
  • Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    CTS is a result of your medial nerve being condensed. This means that the symptoms occur around and along the area of the nerve path. Symptoms include:

    1. Numbness, tingling or pain in your thumb and the first 3 fingers of your hand.

    2. Pain and a burning sensation that travels up your arm.

    3. Pain in your wrist at night that begins to interfere with your sleeping.

    Causes and Risks of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    The Cause of CTS is too much pressure on your wrist, which leads to inflammation. A common cause of this inflammation is an underlying medical condition that blocks blood flow and causes swelling in the wrist.

    Recent causes or conditions linked to CTS include:

    1. Diabetes

    2. Thyroid dysfunction

    3. Fluid retention from menopause or pregnancy

    4. High Blood Pressure

    5. Autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis.


    CTS can be made worse if the wrist is often over-extended. The list following contributes to the swelling and compression of the medial nerve, which can cause or worsen CTS.

    1. Poor positioning of the wrists while using a mouse or keyboard.

    2. Exposure to vibrations from hand-held or power tools.

    3. Repeated over-extending of the wrist such as typing or playing piano.


    (Risks or risk factors of CTS are listed and discussed in the section above titled "Victims of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.")

    Diagnosis and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    Diagnosis is made through a combination of your history, a physical examination, and a series of tests called nerve conduction studies. The physical examination includes an evaluation of your hand, wrist, shoulder, and neck to check for causes of nerve pressure. The wrist is specifically examined or checked for tenderness, swelling and possible deformities. In the nerve conduction studies, if your nerve impulse is slower than normal, you might have CTS.


    Treatment of CTS depends of the severity of the pain your are in and the symptoms you have. There are non-surgical options available, including:

    1. Avoiding over-extension of the wrist

    2. Wearing wrist splints

    3. Pain medications to reduce inflammation

    4. Treatment of underlying conditions

    5. Steroid injections into the carpal area to reduce inflammation.


    There is also the option of surgery. It may be necessary if there is severe damage to the medial nerve. In the surgery, they cut away bands of tissue in the wrist that were placing pressure on your nerve. This should be a last resort, but the outcome is often very positive.

    Bibliography

    Wodele, Andrea, and Jennifer Nelson. "Carpal Tunnel." : Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis. Healthline Networks, 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.healthline.com/health/carpal-tunnel-syndrome#Overview1>.


    Mayo Clinic Staff. "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome." Risk Factors. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/basics/risk-factors/con-20030332.


    (The format of this page would not let me indent the lines under the first line for a proper MLA citation.)