What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? (Causes and Symptoms)

by Aug 20, 2018Anatomy, Injuries

How do you get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel is a very common injury to the hand. It causes significant pain and discomfort in the hand and wrist caused by pressure placed on the median nerve. This injury can be debilitating and impact one’s ability to sleep, work and enjoy daily activities.

Anatomy of the Hand

Your carpal tunnel is a band of ligaments located at your wrist on the palm side, and is where important blood vessels and nerves run through to reach your hand.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome symptoms begin when the pressure inside the tunnel becomes too high which causes your median nerve (a large nerve of the hand ) to be compressed as it passes through the tunnel.

Carpal Ligament

The carpal ligament makes up the carpal tunnel in which the median nerve runs through.

How does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome happen?

Three main factors cause carpal tunnel syndrome:

  1. The tunnel space decreases from a traumatic injury or fracture to the carpal bones (the small bones of the wrist)
  2. The contents of the tunnel (nerves, blood vessels etc.) enlarge
  3. Compression of the median nerve closer to the neck

What are the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are most likely to occur in the first three fingers that are innervated by the median nerve, the thumb, index finger and middle finger. People who have diabetes, are pregnant or have hormonal conditions are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Numbness (especially when flexing the wrist)

  • Pain in wrist and hand

  • Pins and needles

  • Night Pain

  • Weakness or cramping

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

What causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Currently the exact cause for carpal tunnel syndrome is not known, but the following are risk factors:

  • Activities that result in repetitive wrist, hand, and finger movement, especially gripping combined with wrist movement (e.g. construction workers)

  • Direct impact or trauma to the area

  • Pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and hypothyroidism

  • Excessive use of tools that vibrate

What is the treatment?

A physiotherapist or doctor can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. Treatment usually includes:

  • Physiotherapy manual manipulation to help restore full range of motion

  • Rest and Education

  • Physiotherapy exercises