The carpal tunnel is a small opening or tunnel that connects the forearm to the wrist. Blood vessels and the median nerve travel through the tunnel providing the hand and fingers with the nutrients they need. The median nerve transmits signals to and from the brain allowing the hand to function efficiently. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the tunnel begins to narrow due to excessive repetitive movements. Continual movements can cause unusual wear and tear patterns on the bones of the wrist. Over time, this can result in inflammation that narrows the tunnel and puts pressure on both the nerves and the blood vessels. Tingling, numbness and chronic pain are common symptoms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated with anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, physical therapy and, in severe cases, surgery. A surgical procedure can be performed to re-open the tunnel and provide the necessary room for the nerves and blood vessels to function efficiently. If the patient chooses not to have the surgery, physical therapy and regular stretching exercises can be used to keep the area flexible and inflammation under control. Braces may also be used to limit certain movements and prevent future wear and tear on the joint. There are many treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome. The type of treatment will be determined by the severity of the condition.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may be prevented in certain cases. Individuals who work in professions where repetitive hand movements are common are at a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Keeping the muscles that support the hand, wrist, and forearm strong and flexible is important when it comes to reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Stretching the fingers and the wrist using specific exercises will also help to minimize inflammation and maintain range of motion. In order to prevent unusual wear and tear of the joint, exercising the area is extremely important. The use of a brace may also be beneficial to provide the support the joint needs during periods of constant movement.