Carpal tunnel syndrome is a highly common condition. In fact, it is so common that an estimated 3 to 6 percent of adults in the general population find themselves affected. While middle-aged adults are usually more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, younger adults are also prone to developing symptoms if they partake in activities that trigger the condition.
Given that carpal tunnel syndrome commonly occurs in patients for a variety of reasons, it isn’t uncommon for many other unrelated conditions to be misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. As such, it’s important to know how to properly identify the key symptoms.
In this article, we’ll review the definition of carpal tunnel syndrome and which signs are key indicators of this condition. We’ll also review how it can be properly treated and how we can help you relieve your symptoms. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the major nerve in the hand (the median nerve) becomes compressed or squeezed around the wrist. The median nerve is located along the carpal tunnel — a narrow passageway in your wrist. It is surrounded by ligaments and bones and is responsible for providing feeling to the ring, index and middle fingers, as well as the palm side of the thumb.
When this nerve encounters too much pressure, this can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms — such as tingling, numbness and pain in the hand and wrist area.
Signs of Carpal Tunnel
Now that we’ve covered the definition of carpal tunnel syndrome, let’s move on to identifying the key symptoms. These include:
Aching Near the Wrist
Soreness around the wrist is among the most common signs that you might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Other common symptoms include a burning sensation, numbness or pain that occurs more frequently during the night.
Numbness in Thumb & First Three Fingers
Given the location of the median nerve, any sort of pain or numbness in these specific fingers or areas is a strong sign that carpal tunnel syndrome might be at play.
Pins & Needles in Fingers
Tingling (or a “pins and needles” sensation) is also likely to be felt in the areas around the median nerve. This sensation can worsen if symptoms are not treated, particularly during everyday activities that require regular hand use.
Weaker Hand Grip
Many patients who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome experience increased difficulty with grasping smaller objects, or with their overall grip strength.
Frequently Dropping Things
If your grip has gotten weaker, this makes grasping objects much more difficult — which will, of course, lead to you dropping things more frequently.
How can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be Treated?
Those who have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome require treatment to properly alleviate their symptoms. If left untreated, most patients experience a significant worsening of symptoms over time.
The good news is that there are many non-surgical approaches to carpal tunnel treatment. Some of the most effective non-invasive treatment methods include:
Many of our patients report relief of their symptoms after practicing exercises designed to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Popular methods include: making “spider-like” motions with the hands (with both hands joined together at the fingertips and thumbs), shaking the hands (think of the same way you would if you were drying them off) or the “stretch armstrong” exercise (stretching the arm out in front of you and then using the other hand to apply pressure to the hand that’s facing downward).
Changing Activity Patterns
One of the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is repeated wrist and hand activities, which means that changing activity patterns is sometimes what is required to relieve symptoms. If part of your everyday recreational activity or job is causing your symptoms, consider cutting back on the activities at play or making changes to your work environment.
Wearing a Splint or Brace
Many patients dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome experience relief when wearing a brace or splint at night, as these devices help prevent the wrist from bending during sleep. This allows the wrist to remain in a neutral position and helps lift pressure from the median nerve.
Contact the Tread Well Team Today
The team at Tread Well’s clinic in Burlington has helped to serve hundreds of patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and a wide range of other physical conditions. The assistance of a chiropractor or physiotherapist from Tread Well can help you manage your symptoms, treat your pain and improve your function, allowing you to get back to doing the things you love.