The carpal tunnel comprises of bones, ligaments, and tendons located in the region around the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for supplying sensation to parts of the hands and fingers such as the index, middle finger, thumb, and some sections of the ring finger. It is also the nerve responsible for making it possible for the muscles of the thumb and the hand to move.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that arises whenever there is pressure on the median nerve. When the nerve is compressed, classic symptoms that may be witnessed include weakness and a tingling sensation in both the hand and arms and sometimes numbness of both the hand and arms.
The main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is excessive pressure on the median nerve. Quite a number of reasons may be responsible for such excessive pressure. Some of the notable culprits and conditions that may make you develop this syndrome include broken or dislocation of the wrist bone, diabetes, problems with the thyroid system, obesity, pregnancy, and menopause among others.
In some instances, the syndrome may also be caused by forceful and repetitive grasping or bending of the wrist. With repetitive motion around the wrist region, tissues and structures such as the tendons located in the carpal tunnel are likely to swell, thicken or get irritated, leading to excessive pressure on the nerve, and interfering with the transmission of sensation in the hands and arms, sometimes even touching the central nervous system.
There are various ways to treat this syndrome, but it must first be diagnosed correctly. The diagnostic studies for this condition may involve x-rays to view the structure of the wrist bones to see if there are any abnormalities. EMG/NCS can also be used to help determine if the muscles and the nerves are working together. Upon successful diagnosis, remedies may involve non-surgical treatments as well as surgical options such as carpal tunnel operation.
With the nonsurgical option, the aim is to reduce or completely do away with the repetitive motion affecting the median nerve. This may include immobilizing the wrist in a splint to stop or reduce the pressure in the nerve. It may also involve anti-inflammatory medication, putting ice on the wrist, or injecting the wrist to remove the pressure.
Just a small percentage of patients with this syndrome ever need surgical intervention. Surgery may become an option when there are persistent neurological symptoms after all the nonsurgical approaches bear no fruits. The common procedure for dealing with this condition is known as carpal tunnel release. This is usually performed either by endoscopic techniques or open incision.