Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve compression, is a condition that leads to things like tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands. These symptoms usually occur when the median nerve is under pressure. This nerve runs along your arm and through a small passageway in your wrist.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Now that you know what median nerve compression is, let’s take a look at more important details.
Signs and symptoms of median nerve compression
Symptoms of this syndrome will always start slowly but can last for a very long time. If you notice the problem early on, you will notice things like numbness at night or pain or tingling in the fingers (particularly the thumb, middle, and index fingers).
Many people usually sleep with their wrists wrinkled, which is why numbness can occur at night. If the numbness worsens, it may wake you from sleep.
Nocturnal symptoms are usually the first to be reported. During the early stages of the condition, you can get rid of the nighttime symptoms by simply shaking your hands. However, during the day, you will feel things like decreased feelings around the fingertips, an inability to use the hands for the simplest of tasks, and tingling in the fingers.
Over time, you may notice that your symptoms get worse. As such, it is advisable to seek medical attention if you feel that the pressure of the median nerve is getting out of control.
How is the syndrome diagnosed?
When you attend your doctor’s office, he will try to identify the actual source of the problem. They will ask you some questions about your medical history and symptoms and do some tests to make an informed decision.
Your doctor will look for Tinel sign. To do this, the doctor taps on the median nerve around the nerve. He will then ask you if you feel any kind of tingling sensation in the fingers. If you answered yes, you may have the syndrome.
Before making a final decision, your doctor will perform a wrist flexion test, also known as a valine test.
During the Phalen exam, you will rest your elbow on a flat table and let your wrist drop freely. If you have the syndrome, you will experience some numbness and tingling after about 60 seconds. If these symptoms appear sooner, your problem may already have worsened.
In some cases, your doctor will use X-rays to see if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. But if they do have to do this test, it means that the problem may be more than the median nerve compression.
How is the syndrome treated?
There are two ways to treat the syndrome; surgical or non-surgical. Note that despite the treatment process, there are challenges involved. However, if your case is less severe, a non-surgical approach is most appropriate.
Surgical treatment will be effective if your condition is severe. However, no matter how bad your condition is, non-surgical treatment will be prioritized. For example, you will start wearing a wrist splint while you sleep at night.
If that doesn’t work, your doctor will advise you to take some anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. In some cases, cortisone injections will be used. Most treatments will focus on changing your environment to relieve pain and numbness around your wrist and fingers.
If your problem does not respond to Non-surgical treatmentYou may have to undergo surgical procedures. This will be done to improve the size of the tunnel so that there is minimal pressure on the tendons and nerves.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is not life-threatening. However, if things go wrong, you may reduce your quality of life.
Even doing the simplest tasks like driving and using the phone can be quite a challenge. If your condition persists, be sure to contact an expert as soon as possible.