What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Unfortunately quite common, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition causing pain mainly in the hand and fingers, but also in the arm. If not treated, the condition usually gets worse overtime and can become debilitating, so it is important to act at the first signs.

How does it happen?

The carpal tunnel is the space in the wrist through which the network of nerves, tendons and blood vessels runs to the hand. When the space in this tunnel gets smaller, it will affect the important Median nerve. This major nerve is responsible for transmitting sensation and movement signals to and from the hand and fingers, so if it becomes irritated or compressed, pain will ensue.

What are the symptoms?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually starts with tingling sensations in one or more fingers or in the hand, numbness, pain and heat/burn sensation. It is quite frequent to experience these signs during the night as well.

In some cases, the pain can spread to the arm and shoulder.

If not treated, these symptoms will usually increase in frequency and intensity to eventually reach a quite incapacitating pain and weakness of the whole hand.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pins and needles, tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Heat or burning sensation
  • Grip weakness
  • Being woken up at night by these symptoms

Who is at risk?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome often occurs in people doing activities that entail repetitive movements, vibrations or impacts to the hand and wrist or any tasks requiring regular hand force. That is why some professionals are particularly exposed to the risk of being affected: till operators, factory line workers, office employees and any other manual professions such as mechanics, cleaners, gardeners…; crafts and music enthusiasts are also often concerned by this type of pain.

Risk Group

Anybody with an activity causing repetitive movements, vibration or impacts on the hand and wrist
  • Office workers
  • Mechanics
  • Musicians
  • Crafters

Other underlying factors can play a role in the appearance of this syndrome, such as previous wrist injury, pregnancy, obesity or neck problems.

Also, it is noticeable that women are most likely to be affected than men.

What to do?

Prevention is important: if you have an ‘at risk’ occupation, wrist supports can help you alleviate the strain on your articulations. Improving the ergonomic of your work space is also primordial to reduce unnecessary strain.

For light symptoms, spare your wrist as often as possible with the help of a wrist brace to stabilize the articulation in a resting position. Wrist braces can also be worn during the night if needed.

If you experience reoccurring discomfort and complains, a visit to your doctor is necessary.

For more severe cases, surgery is often practiced.

What to do?

  • Rest the wrist as much as possible
  • If possible, avoid the straining activity or at least optimise its ergonomics
  • Wear wrist support or braces as often as needed, even at night
  • If complaints persist, make sure to check in with your doctor as this condition often worsen with time
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