The other day I was in middle of buying my groceries and saw the meat packer standing in a corner, holding an ice pack over his wrist. Looking up he spontaneously blurted out in explanation “My carpal tunnel is bothering me”. Unsettled by pain he pointed out at the tenderness along side of his wrist.
Carpnal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) strikes men and women of all ages and you’ve probably already heard of someone who has had this injury. Long-term repetitive use of hands in tasks which require repeating the same motion for long periods of time can play a role in developing carpnal tunnel syndrome. Classic sufferers include computer programmers or assembly line workers; but, CTS is common in athletes, construction works, hair stylists, dentists, chefs, and the list goes on.
What is Carpnal Tunnel Syndrome?
CTS is a problem of the median nerve, which carries impulses from the brain into the hand, and passes through the carpnal tunnel - a narrow tunnel at the wrist – and runs from the forearm into the hand. When stressed, the tendons along the median nerve swell leading its compression that may result in pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the hand and wrist, which radiates up into the forearm and parts of the hand. Other conditions, besides repetitive use that leads to compression of the median nerve are: diabetes, obesity, fluid retention, arthritis, emotional stress, fractures, and sometimes hormonal changes in women.
How do you know if you have Carpnal Tunnel?
The American Chiropractic Association offers this list of classic symptoms:
• Burning, tingling, itching or pain especially on the thumb side of the hand.
• A false feeling of their fingers being useless and swollen or inability to distinguish hot from cold by touch.
• Pain that radiates toward the shoulder.
• In severe cases, muscles at the base of the thumb become noticeably distorted.
Who is at Risk?
The most expensive of all work-related injuries, CTS typically occurs in middle-ages to older adults, with women three times more likely to develop it than men.
How is CTS Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Carpnal Tunnel Syndrome often is made by a Vancouver Chiropractor, physician, or physiotherapist. If you see a Chiropractor Vancouver, they will confirm the diagnosis of CTS and determine its severity with these common tests:
• Pressure-provocative test. A cuff placed at the front of the carpal tunnel is inflated, followed by direct pressure on the median nerve.
• Carpal compression test. Moderate pressure is applied with both thumbs directly on the carpal tunnel and underlying median nerve at the transverse carpal ligament.
In recent years, electro diagnostic laboratory tests, and ultrasonography and even MRI have been used to reveal real causes of wrist and hand pain. Using small electrodes placed on your skin, with these tests doctors can identify swelling of the median nerve and abnormalities’ of the tunnel wall, and contents in its surrounding area.
If CTS is left untreated, it could result in permanent nerve damage. Early diagnosis and treatment can result in pain relief for most people – and prevent loses in terms of huge medical bills and time absent from work.
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