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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - The Basics

 

What do an avid video gamer, a professional writer, and an automobile assembly person all have in common?

 

They are all prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

This disease became notorious in the 1980s, with the rise of popularity of the personal computer coupled with the enthusiastic reception of 

video games.  However, its appearance on the health scene goes back much farther. There’s evidence that as early as 100 years ago, people had problems with carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

So what is this disorder?

 

Your carpal tunnel is the narrow passage (it’s only about as round as your thumb) that’s located on the palm side of your wrist.  This passage provides protection to your main nerve serving your hand as well as the nine tendons that bend your fingers.

 

When pressure is placed on this nerve, numbness, pain and eventually weakness of the hand appears.  And these are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

For most people, the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome is temporary.  Proper treatment can help restore the use of the wrist and hand as well as alleviate the pain.

 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve.  Medically speaking this is a mixed nerve, meaning that it provides a sensory function as well as the nerve signals that move your muscles.

 

The pressure can come from just about any action that reduces the room it has to move within the carpal tunnel.  These causes could be natural, such as bone spurs or a swelling or thickening of the lining and lubricating layer of the tendons in this passage.

 

The cause of this swelling may differ from individual to individual.  Some individuals are affected with carpal tunnel as a result of rheumatoid arthritis.  Others find that certain hormonal disorder, such as diabetes, thyroid problems and menopause prompt the swelling.  Still others experience fluid retention which leads to swelling and pressure due to pregnancy.  In some cases individuals are affected with deposits of an abnormal protein, called amyloid, produced by the cells in your bone marrow.

 

Carpal swelling may also appear due to repetitive use of the hand or by an injury you’ve sustained.  Continued flexing and extending of the tendons in both the hands and the wrists can increase pressure within the tunnel.  This is especially true when the movement is done forcefully and for long periods of time without rest.  Any injury, additionally, that causes swelling to your wrist may also exert the pressure on this small passageway.

 

Then again, some people experience pain and swelling here simply because of the way their carpal tunnel is “built” as it were.  For some persons, the carpal tunnel is actually smaller than average.

Carpal tunnel is three times more common in women than men.


Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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