Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain and numbness in the fingers and hands, and sometimes the arms. It happens when a nerve in the wrist called the “median nerve” gets pinched or squeezed.

The median nerve goes through a tunnel in the wrist that is formed by the bones of the wrist and a tough band of tissue called a “ligament”. Experts do not know exactly how the nerve can get pinched, but they think it might happen when:

  • Tissues in the tunnel get swollen or
  • People hold their hands in a position that makes the tunnel smaller

The median nerve carries signals about sensation – it tells the brain what the hand is “feeling.” It gets input from these parts of the hand:

  • Thumb
  • Index finger
  • Middle finger
  • Parts of the ring finger
  • Parts of the palm closest to the thumb

 

How common is the disorder?

CTS is a common disorder. The estimated prevalence of CTS in the general population is 1 to 5 percent.

 

Who is more likely to get the symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome? __

Woman are 3 times more likely than men to get carpal tunnel syndrome.

The people who work on the desktop for longer hours, those who talk on the mobile phone for longer time holding the phone, those who have the habit of keeping the hands below the head or the pillow are more prone to the condition.

Being overweight probably increases the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Examples of other conditions that might increase the risk include pregnancy, diabetes, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome? The symptoms include pain and tingling in the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers. Often the symptoms affect both hands, but one hand might have worse symptoms than the other.

The symptoms include pain and tingling in the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers. Often the symptoms affect both hands, but one hand might have worse symptoms than the other.

In some cases, pain and tingling can extend to the whole hand or even up to the wrist and forearm. Rarely, pain and tingling extend past the elbow to the shoulder. Symptoms are usually worst at night and can even wake you up from sleep. The symptoms can also flare up when you do things that involve bending and unbending your wrist or raising your arms. Some activities can trigger symptoms in people with carpal tunnel syndrome. But they do not actually cause the condition. Examples include:

  • Sleeping
  • Driving
  • Reading
  • Typing
  • Holding a phone

In many people, the symptoms come and go. But some people eventually have symptoms all the time. They can end up having trouble moving their fingers or controlling their grip.

 

Is there a test for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Yes. Electrical tests of the nerves can show if you have carpal tunnel syndrome and tell the severity of the condition. Your doctor will probably be able to tell if you have carpal tunnel syndrome by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam. During the exam, he or she might tap on or press on your wrist, or ask you to hold your hands in ways that are known to make symptoms worse.

Electrical nerve tests can prove if you really have carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors usually order these tests for people who might need surgery to treat their condition.

  • Nerve conduction studies– Nerve conduction studies can show whether the median nerve is carrying electrical signals the right way. In people with carpal tunnel syndrome, signals can be slow or weak.
  • Electromyography– Electromyography, also called EMG, can show whether the muscles in the hand and wrist are responding the right way to electrical signals. This test is most useful in checking whether another condition besides carpal tunnel syndrome might be causing the symptoms.

 

Should I see a doctor?

See your doctor or nurse if you develop the symptoms described above, and they bother you.

 

How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?

Treatments are often combined and can include:

  • Wrist splints– Some people feel better if they wear splints at night that keep their hands in a “neutral position.” The neutral position is when the wrist is not bent forward or backward and the fingers are curled naturally toward the palm.
  • Steroid shots or pills– Steroids are a group of medicines that control inflammation and swelling. To treat carpal tunnel syndrome, doctors sometimes inject steroids into the carpal tunnel. People who do not want to get an injection can take steroids in pill form instead. But the pills are less effective than the shot.
  • Other physical treatments– There is some evidence that yoga or another treatment called “carpal bone mobilization” can help people with carpal tunnel syndrome. For carpal bone mobilization, a physical or occupational therapist moves your hand or wrist around in a special way, so that the bones in the wrist move.
  • Surgery– Doctors offer surgery to people who have ongoing or severe nerve damage that is causing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome involves cutting the ligament that stretches across the wrist to form the tunnel. However, women who get carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy usually don’t need surgery. In most cases, the symptoms gradually improve after the baby is born.

 

Can carpal tunnel syndrome be prevented?

It’s unclear whether there is any way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. But its good idea to maintain a healthy weight, avoid abnormal postures of hand for a longer time (usage of computer and mobile, keeping the hand below the head while sleeping). Seek help from the Neurologist in time if the symptoms are recurrent and disturbing the sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Vishal Pawar

Specialist Neurologist

Aster Speciality Clinic, International City

facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Read More

The importance of handwashing

Is the hype about hand washing really true or is it an overreaction?

It is common knowledge that washing hands well after performing any activity is the best way to keep away from infections. Hand washing is the oldest and most simple step one can take in order to ensure prevention of bacterial infections or spread of infections from person to person. It is one of the most underrated means of prevention because a lot of times when we are asked to wash our hands we ignore it. But this is a message that is actually worth repeating.

Proper handwashing helps prevent many illnesses as germs can spread in many ways. In our daily routines, we often touch many things and objects without realizing the harm it could cause. Everything from doorknobs, tables, bottles to our own mobile phones have germs because various people use/touch it. Once a person is infected, it’s only a matter of time before that the people around also get infected. Handwashing is definitely the first line of defense against the spread of various infections like the common cold, hepatitis, meningitis, respiratory infections, skin, and diarrhea etc. Handwashing is definitely an underrated technique of saving yourself a trip to the hospital. It is like self-vaccinating against infectious diseases.

(more…)

facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Read More

The basics of breastfeeding

“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are; warmth in the arms of (his) mother, food from her breasts and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastmilk satisfies all three.”

  • Grantly Dick-Read

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is at least 6 months of age as it is optimal for babies and mothers. Breastmilk is your baby’s first feed and the first means of immunizing your baby against infections and allergies. Breastmilk keeps your baby healthy by supplying them with all the essential nutrients in its required quantities. It has the perfect combination of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats.

The importance of breastfeeding and its benefits for the mother and child are commonly known and often spoken about. However, there are certainly other aspects of breastfeeding that mother’s or expectant mothers need to know about in order to be able to breastfeed their baby efficiently.

(more…)

facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Read More

Back to school ready

Going back to school can be a stressful time for children. They will be excited but will also have certain apprehensions about the new class they are going into, new teachers and new friends. Parents are the sole support system for children and must encourage their children while at the same time address their concerns. Some of the tips to help your child to get ready for school are:

  • Communication is key. Talk to your child about the new and exciting things at the school. Also, talk to your child and ask him about his concerns and fears.
  • Tell your child about the positive points like making many new friends, meeting old friends and having new teachers.
  • Visit the school with your child to meet the new teachers, if possible, and to have a look at your child’s new classroom.
  • Reassure your child that you will be by his/her side at all times.

It could be challenging for the parents to bring the child back to the school routine after a long break of two months of summer holidays. Parents can help their child by simple measures, including:

(more…)

facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Read More

Body Mechanics and Posture

Body mechanics is a term used to describe the ways we move as we go about our daily lives. It includes how we hold our bodies when we sit, stand, lift, carry, bend, and sleep. Poor body mechanics are often the cause of back problems. When we don’t move correctly and safely, the spine is subjected to abnormal stresses that over time can lead to degeneration of spinal structures like discs and joints, injury, and unnecessary wear and tear.

Standing
Millions of people spend a good deal of their time on their feet. Standing work, including bending, lifting, carrying and reaching can be tough on the back – especially if proper body mechanics are not being used. Use the following guidelines to minimize the risk of injury to your back when working while standing.

  • Avoid standing in one position for prolonged periods of time. Change your position as often as you can. This will not only help relieve stress on your spine, it also helps increase circulation and decrease muscle fatigue. When you can, stretch. Gentle stretching exercises during a break can help ease muscle tightness.
  • Make sure the surface you are standing on is firm and level.
  • If possible, lean on a solid support. This can help reduce fatigue during long periods of standing.

(more…)

facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Read More