Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when one of the large nerves in the arm is compressed. The condition can be painful and lead to weakness in the hand and wrist as well as tingling. So, what causes carpal tunnel, and what steps should you take to treat it? Let’s answer common questions about carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
With carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve is compressed as it goes through the carpal tunnel. Your median nerve provides functions to the thumb and three middle fingers. So, when it’s compressed, it can result in symptoms like:
- Weakness gripping objects
- Pain or numbness in the hands
- “Pins and needles” feelings
- Pain or numbness that gets worse at night
- Swollen feeling in the fingers
What Causes Carpal Tunnel to Flare Up?
There are several things that can cause carpal tunnel to flare up, like:
- Overuse and repetitive movements
- Use of vibrating tools
- Pregnancy with fluid retention
- Health conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
In many cases, it’s difficult to pinpoint one single cause of carpal tunnel. Any movement that really squeezes or irritates the median nerve may cause carpal tunnel. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel if you:
- Are pregnant
- Are overweight
- Have a parent or sibling with the condition
- Have a previous wrist injury
For more information, we’ve pulled together a guide on how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel in Pregnancy?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition during pregnancy because you have more fluid build-up in your body than normal. Some of this excess fluid can collect in the carpal tunnel. This leads to a build of pressure in the wrists and hands.
If carpal tunnel is caused by pregnancy then your GP will likely advise you on how to manage the condition, such as performing certain exercises and limiting repetitive wrist movements. You may also be provided with a splint. Carpal tunnel after pregnancy typically subsides after delivery. If any pain lingers, it’s important that you speak with your doctor.
How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Often, when carpal tunnel pain is more apparent and painful, it’s unlikely to go away on its own. You may not need surgery, but you will likely need some intervention. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome usually begins with non-surgical treatments such as a carpal tunnel splint, medication, and limiting certain movements.
If non-surgical treatments don’t offer any relief, then you may require carpal tunnel syndrome surgery to take pressure off the median nerve. Carpal tunnel surgery recovery typically takes between 6-12 weeks. With hand surgery, you tend to require hand therapy afterwards as you need to regain strength and mobility.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery at The Harley Clinic
If you’re considering carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, book a consultation at The Harley Clinic to speak with an expert and discuss your treatment options.
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