Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
|Carpal Tunnel Syndrome|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
- Swelling of tissue in the carpal tunnel due to injury or fluid changes in your body
- Hereditary narrow carpal tunnel
- Tumors (rare)
- Sex: female
- Advancing age
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Activities with repetitive hand motions:
- Certain sports
- Playing musical instruments
- Assembly tasks
Water retention from:
- Heart failure
- Kidney problems
- Wrist injury:
- Raynaud's disease and phenomenon, which impairs blood flow in the hands
- Hormone-related conditions:
- Birth control pills
- Cortisone pills or shots
- Some high blood pressure medicines
- Tingling, burning, or numbness, especially in your thumb and index or middle fingers
Pain or numbness that worsens with:
- Wrist, hand, or finger movement
- Sleep (symptoms may wake you)
Hand stiffness or cramping that gets better after:
- Shaking your hand
- Waking up in the morning
Weakness or clumsiness of your hand:
- Loss of grip strength
- Difficulty making a fist
- Frequently dropping things
- Pain that moves up your arm
- Electrodiagnostic exam—Measures and records the speed of electrical conduction in your median nerve (to see if the nerve impulse in the hand is delayed)
- MRI scan—A test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside your body, in this case the neck (cervical spine)
- X-ray—A test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside your body, especially bones
- Ultrasound—A test that uses sound waves to measure the width of your median nerve (may be used as a screening test or to guide injections)
Rest, Ice, Elevation, and Exercises
- Rest your wrist by keeping it straight and decreasing activities that worsen pain.
- Gently apply ice packs to the area.
- Elevate the hand above your heart to reduce swelling.
- Do exercises as directed by your healthcare provider.
A Wrist Splint
- Pain relievers, for example, aspirin and ibuprofen
- Injection of cortisone into the carpal tunnel
- Minimize repetitive hand movements when possible.
- Alternate between activities or tasks to reduce the strain on your body.
- When using your wrists, keep them straight. Let your arms and shoulders share the stress.
- Use your whole hand or both hands to pick up an item.
- Avoid holding an object the same way for a long time.
If you work in an office, adjust your desk, chair, and keyboard so you are in the best possible position:
- Back straight
- Feet flat on the floor or resting on a footrest
- Knees level with or slightly lower than your hips
- Shoulders in a neutral position, not forward or back
- Elbows bent at a 90-degree angle
- Forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight
Take breaks at least every hour to:
- Rest or shake your hands
- Massage your palms and backs of your hands
- Get regular aerobic exercise such as walking or swimming.
- Cut down on caffeine and smoking. These activities may reduce blood flow to your hands.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
American Association of Neurological Surgeons http://www.aans.org
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca
Physical Therapy.ca http://www.physicaltherapy.ca
Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com. Updated October 8, 2012. Accessed October 23 ,2012.
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- Reviewer: John C. Keel, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/31/2012 -