Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
January 4th, 2016 301 post views
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Because carpal tunnel syndrome affects up to 5,000 people in Eastbourne and the surrounding area I thought I’d use this blog to share some facts and information about it for my patients.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve which runs down your arm into your hand gets compressed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensation in your palm, thumb and fingers, but not the little finger. It also controls some movement in your wrist. It’s made up of branches from the nerves that come out of your neck from C5, C6, C7 and C8.
Picture of the nerves from the neck, median nerve, which is involved in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Median Nerve And The Carpal Tunnel At The Wrist.
The carpal tunnel itself is made by the bones of your wrist and the tough ligaments which hold them together. Running through the tunnel are various tendons, nerves and blood vessels. Sometimes thickening of the ligaments or tendons, or stiffness of the joints, or swelling in general (e.g. during pregnancy) can compress the nerves particularly resulting in medium nerve compression. This can cause weakness, numbness and even a pain radiating up the arm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common of the entrapment neuropathies, accounting for 90% of all peripheral nerve compression syndromes. Some studies suggest that 5% of people suffer with carpal tunnel-type symptoms. The most common age is 45-60 year olds.
Although carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and most well-known peripheral trapped nerve problem, it’s possible to get a trapped nerve at many points throughout the body.
Trapped nerves or more correctly referred to as compression neuropathies. There are numerous ways your nerves can be damaged, but in this blog we are focusing on the compression type of injuries, which are responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Your peripheral nerves can also be pinched, irritated or compressed as they leave the spine for example by a slipped disc, or arthritis in the spine (aka spondylitis). Symptoms will affect just one part of the body, depending on where the nerve is trapped (compress or irritated). However, to clarify I’ve had a number of patients with carpal tunnel who’ve suffered with the symptoms in their hand but also an ache radiating up their forearm.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a Type of Compressional Neuropathy
There can are a range of factors which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Overuse and in particular using vibrational machinery is often to blame for these this type of trapped nerve. However, there may also be something that’s causing swelling in the patient, for example Rheumatoid Arthritis or with pregnancy etc.
Some people have a congenital predisposition (having a smaller tunnel than others). When I was studying the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (http://www.aecc.ac.uk/) I remember some statistics suggested that white, Caucasians were most likely to suffer with carpal tunnel syndrome but I can’t find that reference and it’ll be over a decade out of date by now. If you have a genetic predisposition then other people in your family will have suffered with carpal tunnel too. But remember, think about what jobs they have or do they have rheumatoid arthritis etc.
Women are three times more likely to get carpal tunnel than men. Experts believe this is because the carpal tunnel itself is smaller in women. Women are also 3 to 5 times more likely to suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis than men and obviously pregnancy will skew the statistics.
Carpal tunnel symptoms usually start as a burning or tingling / pins and needles sensation in your hand and wrist, which is easily settles when you shake your hand out. In my experience people first notice these symptoms when sleeping at night. Typically swelling will build up as we lie still sleeping, plus if you lie on your wrist you’ll compress the carpal tunnel even more.
Early diagnosis and treatment is important.
If you have any questions about carpal tunnel or other trapped nerves just comment and ask James Revell, Doctor of Chiropractic.
The intention of this blog is to share information about carpal tunnel syndrome with my patients, so they can better understand what’s going on if they have this condition.
I commonly see people with general aches and pains, including those of the joints and muscle spasms, and because Carpal Tunnel Syndrome will be affecting up to 5,000 local people I often see people with it and hope this blog gives them some additional information about how it occurs.
If you have any questions please just ask me or one of my colleagues on your next visit.