Carpal Tunnel

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a problem that affects the wrist and hand. If you have CTS, tingling and numbness can make even simple tasks hard to do. But CTS can be treated, and your symptoms can be controlled.

Learning about Carpal Tunnel
The carpal tunnel is a narr ow space inside the wrist that is surrounded by bone and ligament. This space lets certain tendons and a major nerve pass from the forearm into the hand. With CTS, the tendon sheaths may thicken and enlarge. This reduces the amount of space inside the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve may be compressed.

The Symptoms of CTS
Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of CTS. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night. Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. For instance, you may notice symptoms while you are driving or holding a newspaper. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.

Working with Your Doctor
Your doctor will perform an exam to learn more about your symptoms. Once your problem is diagnosed, you and your doctor can make a treatment plan. He or she can help you learn about symptom relief and surgery. If you have surgery, you are likely to go home the same day.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prevention Tips

Certain repetitive hand activities may put you at higher risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). By learning how to modify the way you use your hands, you may be able to reduce the risk. Keep the tips listed below in mind at home and on the job. And, be sure to follow your company’s hand and wrist safety policies and procedures.

Keep Your Wrist in Neutral
Avoid using your wrist in a bent (flexed), extended, or twisted position for long periods of time. Instead, try to maintain a neutral (straight) wrist position.

Watch Your Grip
Gripping, grasping, or lifting with the thumb and index finger can put stress on your wrist. When practical, use the whole hand and all the fingers to grasp an object.

Minimize Repetition
Even simple, light tasks may eventually cause injury. If possible, avoid repetitive movements or holding an object in the same way for extended periods of time.

Rest Your Hands
Periodically give your hands a break by letting them rest briefly. Or you may be able to alternate easy and hard tasks, switch hands, or rotate work activities.

Reduce Speed and Force
Reducing the speed with which you do a forceful, repetitive movement gives your wrist time to recover from the effort. Using power tools helps reduce the force.

Conditioning Exercises
Certain exercises strengthen the hand and arm muscles. They may help by reducing the need to compensate for these weak muscles with a poor wrist position.