Table of contents:

Where does tunnel syndrome come from and how to treat it
Where does tunnel syndrome come from and how to treat it

Spoiler alert: computer mice might not have anything to do with it.

Where does tunnel syndrome come from and how to treat it
Where does tunnel syndrome come from and how to treat it

What is Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is talked about when faced with strange sensations in the hand. Pain, weakness, difficulty holding heavy objects, such as a cup or book, numbness, tingling in the fingers - that's for sure.

Compression of the median nerve leads to such unpleasant sensations: for various reasons, it is pinched between the bones and tendons of the muscles of the wrist (in the so-called carpal tunnel).

Tunnel Syndrome
Tunnel Syndrome

Since the median nerve controls the sensitivity and movement of the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers, these are where discomfort is concentrated.

There is one clarification worth making here. Tunnel syndrome in this case is not entirely correct definition. The nerve can be compressed not only in the wrist, but also in the knee, elbow, ankle and other joints. Therefore, a more accurate name for the situation we are talking about is carpal tunnel syndrome, or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). But for the sake of simplicity, we will restrict ourselves to the most common formulation.

Where does tunnel syndrome come from?

It is widely believed that tunnel syndrome is a consequence of excessively active and long work on the keyboard and with a computer mouse. But physiologists still have not been able to collect enough data for Carpal tunnel syndrome - Symptoms and causes to confirm this version.

Most likely, median nerve entrapment is caused not by a specific cause, but by a combination of different risk factors. Here are the most popular ones.

1. Anatomy

People who have narrower carpal canals from birth are more likely to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Injuries

A dislocated or fractured wrist can lead to tendon shear or bone misalignment, which means increased pressure on the median nerve.

3. Rheumatoid arthritis

Sometimes the disease deforms the small bones of the wrist, increasing pressure on the nerve. In addition, arthritis is accompanied by inflammation and edema of the periarticular tissue, which also increases the risk of pinching.

4. Gender

Carpal tunnel syndrome in women is three times more common in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment than in men. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the former have narrower carpal canals.

5. Diabetes

This condition contributes to nerve damage, so the median can cause unpleasant sensations in the hand, even if there is no extra pressure on it.

6. Pregnancy or menopause

In these conditions, the outflow of fluid from the limbs may be impaired. Swelling of the tissues around the wrist increases pressure on the nerve.

7. Some other diseases

Certain diseases can also cause fluid retention, which means that they increase the risk of developing tunnel syndrome. For example:

  • hypothyroidism (a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too few hormones);
  • hypertension;
  • obesity;
  • renal failure;
  • lymphedema (disruption of the lymphatic vessels).

8. Working conditions

Working with vibrating tools, such as a drill or jackhammer, or on an assembly line that involves long and wide wrist flexion and extension, can create harmful pressure on the median nerve. Or worsen preexisting nerve damage - especially if you have to work in the cold.

How to Treat Tunnel Syndrome at Home

If discomfort in your wrist appears only occasionally, you can try to cope with it yourself.

Try to put less stress on your brush

Eliminate activities that require you to actively flex and extend your wrists. Track your pain and avoid these activities. Or, at the very least, take breaks often to allow your wrist to rest.

Working with a computer mouse, despite the lack of research, also should not be discounted: suddenly, in your case, it is this factor that "shoots out". Make sure your device is comfortable and you don't have to strain your hand to operate it.

Exercise to strengthen your hand

For example, rotate your fist first in one direction, then in the other. Or clench your fingers tightly into a fist, and then unclench them just as vigorously. Exercise 10-15 times at least twice a day.

Use a cold compress for pain

Place a heating pad with cold water or an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth on the injured wrist. This will help reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever

You can use paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets. At the same time, they will relieve the swelling. Just keep in mind: if you have to take analgesics every day, then the situation is out of control.

When do you need a doctor's help

If pain, numbness, weakness of the hand become regular, be sure to consult a doctor. You can start with a therapist: he will conduct an examination, suggest that you take tests (blood, urine, hormones) and, if necessary, send you to a specialized specialist.

If you suspect diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, hypothyroidism, you will need to undergo treatment. At the same time, the therapy will relieve you of the tunnel syndrome.

In other cases, a physician may suggest:

  • Put a splint on the injured hand. It will immobilize the joint and help the wrist heal faster. As a rule, the splint is used only at night - this is enough to relieve daytime symptoms as well.
  • Inject a corticosteroid into the carpal tunnel. It reduces pain and reduces swelling and inflammation.

If all else fails, the last option is surgery. You will have a small incision in your wrist and a tendon that will be cut to relieve pressure on the nerve. The recovery period after such a procedure takes from several weeks to 2-3 months (in some cases up to a year).

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