Did you know that people cannot flip a page of a book or magazine without enduring needle-like pricking pain or numbness on their hands? Pain sensations that can travel up to the forearm and numbness are common. These are some of the symptoms of a disease called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
In the anatomy of a human body, we have eight carpal bones covered by a ligament in front. There is a space between them called carpal tunnel. In this space the median nerve passes thru which is one of the main sensory nerves of the hand. Specifically the Median nerve gives feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half of the ring fingers. The median nerve also gives motor control to the small muscles to the base of the thumb.
Facts about CTS
Knowing the anatomy, we can understand that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a compression on the carpal space where the median nerve lies. Statistically, CTS occurs 1 in 1000 people in which it usually occurs at the age of 40 to 50. Women are affected 2-3 times more than men. Studies shown some causes of CTS, main cause specifies minor changes in the tendons by increase in pressure or tension on the space restricting blood supply to the nerve, genetic factors also play a factor, and interplay of diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, pregnancy etc) may also cause CTS. In rare cases, tumor growth, cysts or major swellings can be a root cause.
Signs and symptoms may include: pin or needle-like pain, numbness, tingling sensation or combination of the three. Symptoms worsen at night and later with weakness in the thenar muscles. To confirm the diagnosis of CTS, doctors may asks for detailed medical history, bone x-ray and nerve-conduction test.
Treatment can go natural or pharmacological/surgical:
Natural Alternative Treatment includes:
- Wet cupping – an ancient Chinese involves pricking the skin around relevant acupuncture points and placing glass cups to apply suction to that area for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Acupuncture – a traditional Asian Therapy Acupuncture may reduce inflammation, relieving the nerve’s compression.
- Yoga – improves grip strength and allowed CTS patients to skip using wrist splints for pain
- Ice – For 15-20 minutes, apply ice to your wrist. It reduces swelling and the resulting pain.
- Self Massage – Gently massage your hands moving from the tips of your fingers across your palm and past your wrist to your forearm
- Rest – Nothing beats rest. Avoid flexing or bending those muscles to avoid pressure
Pharmacological/Surgical Treatment includes:
- Botox – At the University of Minnesota, a clinical trial is now under way. Botox prevents the neurotransmitter release by blocking synaptobrevin in the synaptic cleft; thus preventing the pain sensation and inflammatory response that can occur.
- Wrist Splints – splints keep the wrist in bending and flexing, so no aggravation of inflammation on the affected area.
- Steroids –a well know anti-inflammatory reduces the pain on the site
- Surgery – freeing the median nerve by cutting ligament, which forms the roof of the carpal tunnel is the goal of the surgery. 10% of losing the hand control and sensation would be the detrimental risk.
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