3.7% of people in the U.S. have it, with 3% of women and 2% of men being diagnosed during their lifetime. The disease appears to be prevalent among women older than 55. There is a lot of difficulty around understanding CTS and how many people actually have it because symptoms reported often result in normal test results.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome? It's a condition in the hand and arm that causes numbness, tingling and other feeling symptoms. The cause? It stems directly from a pinched nerve in the wrist, which many factors can contribute to including your wrist's anatomy, patterns of hand use (typing all day ring a bell?), and other pre-existing health problems.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also known as carpal tenosynovitis. Typically, patients have a burning or tingling feeling in the hand and fingers. They also experience numbness in the wrist, hand pain, wrist joint stiffness, weakness, weak grip and trouble making small finger movements.
So what exactly happens? The median nerve, the hand's main nerve, passes through a band of tendons in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This occurs when the area becomes inflamed, pinching the nerve and causing tingling and numbness in the hand and fingers.
More often than not, repetitive movements like typing, factory work or other activities that stress the wrist and forearms can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also cause hand weakness, making it hard to grip objects. This condition can also run in families and obesity, diabetes, arthritis and pregnancy can also bring it on.
Carpal tunnel syndrome gradually progresses with tingling and numbness in the fingers and hand. Symptoms can begin at night and eventually start during the day. Some severe cases actually wear thumb muscles, making it hard to grasp objects. Believe it or not, treating this could be changed to your workspace, taking certain medications, inhabiting the use of wrist braces and even surgery can relieve symptoms.
Treatments include hand and wrist exercises, wrist splints, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medication and surgery to relieve nerve pressure. Patients can also work to relieve symptoms at home using ice packs.
If you are experiencing symptoms for several weeks and still have them, it's important to see your doctor right away. Your doctor can diagnose this condition by evaluating medical history and a full physical exam. He or she may also order nerve conduction studies and x-rays if needed to rule out fractures or other problems.