What is carpal tunnel syndrome and how can we recognize it? We talked about it with the expert
Inflammatory diseases, wrist fractures, strenuous work, repeated movements with the arm, represent some of the factors that can contribute to compress, and consequently irritate, the median nerve. It is a nerve that crosses the arm and reaches the fingers, passing through the carpal tunnel, located at the level of the wrist.
Compression of this nerve causes the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that can also worsen with the passage of time, sometimes leading to necessarily surgical intervention. For this, it is essential not to underestimate the symptoms and to seek the advice of a specialist in order to undertake an adequate treatment plan.
- What to do to relieve pain
- When should you operate?
- Useful exercises
The reasons for the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome are different. For example, repeatedly performing movements that generate compression on the median nerve can trigger this disorder. Other possible causes are:
- the presence of diseases, such as diabetes, that damage the nerve;
- the fracture of the wrist;
- the presence of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis;
- fluid retention in the carpal tunnel which can irritate the median nerve (this can happen during pregnancy).
To learn more about the subject, we asked for the consultation of Dr. Andrea Genta, Physiotherapist.
"Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder caused by the entrapment of the median nerve in the bones of the wrist. The main symptom is acute pain in the wrist area, often accompanied by difficulties in opening the hand and in other movements of the forearm. Consequently, we can also see a reduction in the overall strength of the arm muscles ».
Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome – which can accompany the pain – are numbness and tingling in the fingers, especially at night. In slightly more severe cases, muscle weakness can lead to difficulty in grasping objects.
What to do to relieve pain
«You can carry out some mild self-mobilization exercises, paying attention, however, not to trigger further pain. In this sense, the exercises to be performed with the wrist, with the hand and with the elbow, aimed at maintaining good range of motion, are very useful. In addition, it is essential to establish the extent of the disorder to exclude the possibility of an intervention and then evaluate whether it is better to proceed with conservative therapy or operate at a surgical level ", explains the expert.
“There are several tests that can be done to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. Electromyography, for example, is useful for getting an overview of the muscle contraction of the arm, as it highlights any entrapment of the median nerve. Once the presence of the disease is diagnosed, a personalized therapeutic program is drawn up. If necessary, you can also opt for a cervical resonance, which is useful for differentiating from other problems ".
In general, the type of examinations to be performed depends on the individual case. To best treat carpal tunnel syndrome, it is best not to underestimate the symptoms and contact a specialist as soon as possible who can make an accurate diagnosis of the case. In this way, the set treatment plan can give the first benefits.
When should you operate?
“When the compression of the median nerve is tangible. Or even in the event that the irritability that causes the pathology has become disabling for the patient and if conservative therapies such as physiotherapy and instrumental therapies have not been effective ", Dr. Genta points out.
Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to intense disturbances that limit the performance of daily activities. Especially in these cases, a surgical intervention is evaluated thanks to which the median nerve is freed from compression.
"In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, very simple general exercises for the upper limb can be performed (even at home). Here are some of them aimed at making active wrist movements:
- slowly open and close your hand (open your fingers well, spread them out and then close them into a fist);
- placing the forearm on the table and keeping the hand out, with the fist make movements in flexion and extension of the wrist or simple circles.
The exercises must always be carried out in a gentle way to avoid causing pain "concludes the expert.
As we have seen, carpal tunnel syndrome generates pain, discomfort and can sometimes limit daily activities. If the symptoms described above occur, it is good to act promptly by listening to the opinion of a professional in the sector.