Many of us have heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but may not be sure what it is. The carpal tunnel is actually part of our anatomy. The “tunnel” is formed on the palm side of our wrist by a curvature in the wrist and arm bones that creates a wide “C” shaped space. This space is filled by all of the tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves that travel from the arm into the hand. This area is susceptible to trauma and additional injury from overuse or improper biomechanics. The good news is there are great treatments and exercises available for the nerve pain symptoms and common problems associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome will include sensations of numbness and/or tingling in the hand. The primary locations to feel this sensation change will be in the thumb and the first finger. It may extend to the middle finger and even the ring finger, but not to the pinky finger which is powered by a different nerve. Secondly, you may feel a loss of strength, especially pinch strength. This can lead to dropping items and inability to perform simple tasks such as opening a jar or other lid. Symptoms often get worse when using the hands and arms in front of the body for tasks such as typing, writing and driving.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be irritating, but it can also lead to more permanent injury, loss of strength and function. Sustained pressure on the median nerve can cause permanent damage. We should also keep in mind that symptoms in the hand, wrist and forearm can be caused by restriction in the carpal tunnel, but may also result from pressure on the nerve in other commonly involved areas. The median nerve can become entrapped and damaged at the wrist, the elbow, the shoulder and even at the nerve root level in your neck. It is important that your physician check for nerve entrapment and disfunction at each of these points before arriving at a final diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you are having these types of symptoms, especially following an accident or injury, give Utah Health Center a call. We can help you determine whether or not treatment or therapy is needed for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.