Carpal Tunnel Syndrome– An Overview

It is one of the frustrating diseases of nerves and ligaments which cannot be cured easily. It is a quite common condition. Know about the causes, clinical symptoms, signs and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Median nerve is an important nerve of the forearm. There is a band of ligaments present at the wrist joint called as flexor retinaculum. The median nerve passes from between this band and bones of the wrist.

There is space to accommodate the median nerve and tendons only. If there is swelling of any tissue in the wrist joint, then it causes compression of the median nerve giving rise to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The median nerve can be compressed due to abnormal growth of bones while growing up and the symptoms may present at teenage. It is commonly seen in menopausal women and pregnancy.

It also occurs due to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis. In these diseases, there is inflammation of the joint and the tissue around the wrist joint swells up. It can also be due to myxoedema which is an endocrine disease in which there is swelling all over the body.

Any injury to the wrist joint, fracture of the wrist joint can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. In some cases, the cause is not known. Due to compression of the nerve, there is sensation of tingling, pins and needles in the index finger, middle finger and the thumb.

This is because, median nerve supplies these fingers. There is burning pain, tingling and numbness along the distribution of the nerve. The pain radiates upwards to the arm. Pain is usually worse at night and relieved by letting the affected arm hang down from side.

Sometimes there is loss of function of the fingers. Delicate movements like sewing, writing or holding some things in hand become difficult. In severe compression of the nerve, there is weakness in the thumb, middle and index fingers. There is loss of fine sensation and motor functions. On examination, the pain is increased when the wrist and fingers are flexed.

Treatment is to wear a splint called cock- up splint which supports the structures around the wrist and helps to relieve the compression of the median nerve to some extent. Surgical treatment is employed in some cases which helps.

This entry was posted in Joints.