While women are more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it affects 3-6% of all adults. When left untreated, it can impair hand strength and limit overall hand and wrist function, which is why our team encourages an exam at the onset of wrist pain.
The median nerve travels down your arm and into your hand through a narrow space called the carpal tunnel. Wrist injuries or inflammation of the surrounding tendons can compress the nerve, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.
People born with smaller-than-average wrists are at an increased risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, though most cases are caused by repetitive use and wrist flexion. Overuse of tendons and wrist injuries can lead to inflammation that pinches the median nerve.
Health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and thyroid disorders increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. The hormonal shifts associated with pregnancy and menopause can also influence your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops gradually and worsen over time. Common symptoms include:
As hand weakness progresses, many patients who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome notice an increase in dropping things. They also report feeling as though their fingers are swollen when they are not as well as radiating sensations from the wrist down through their fingers.
While pain management is important while treating carpal tunnel syndrome, the primary objective is to prevent permanent damage to the median nerve. A malfunctioning nerve can lead to muscle deterioration in the hand.
Early stage carpal tunnel syndrome responds well to:
Some advanced cases require surgical intervention to alleviate pressure along the median nerve.