What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) ?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that is caused by compression of Median nerve at the wrist, when this nerve runs through a confined space known as the carpal tunnel.
When the median nerve is compressed at the wrist in the carpal tunnel, this results in disruption of electrical impulses through the nerve. This nerve provides sensation to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and to half of the ring finger. The small finger is typically not affected. The median nerve also carries impulses to small muscles in the hand.
The main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is swelling due to repetitive motion or overuse of the wrist and fingers, hence creating edema in the carpal tunnel. It can also be a feature of pregnancy, particularly in women who suffer from generalised swelling of the hands and feet throughout their pregnancy.
In short, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the name given to a sensation of numbness, weakness, tingling and general discomfort in the outer area of the wrist and hand.
Who is prone to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ?
People most at risk are those with jobs or activities that involve repetitive finger use, especially those associated with high force, long-term use, extreme wrist motions, and vibration, creating edema in the carpal tunnel, which in turn results in compression of the median nerve.
Other factors that contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
1. Heredity (smaller carpal tunnels can run in families).
3. Wrist fracture and dislocation.
4. Hand or wrist deformity.
5. Arthritic diseases involving the wrist.
6. Thyroid gland under activity (hypothyroidism).
9. A mass in the carpal tunnel.
10. Old age.
11. Repetitive use of a vibrating tool.