Arthritis is a common illness of the human skeleton, consisting of the inflammation of one or more joints. Although many of us have surely heard of carpal tunnel syndrome before, we are not aware that it is also a type of arthritis, and perhaps one of the most widely-spread, for that matter.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of arthritis located in the arms, hands and wrists. Our hands and arms have a series of three main nerves that extend from the forearm to the palm of our hands. When the position of one of these nerves, namely the median nerve, becomes altered at the level of the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs.
The general cause of this illness is pressure or trauma applied to the wrist. There are many things that can cause these, such as excessive usage of the wrist, bone fractures, smoking or the development of tumors in this area. Carpal tunnel syndrome may also occur as a complication to other diseases that affect the conjunctive tissues, thus leading to the inflammation and swelling of the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes or obesity.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms may occur in one hand or both and can be of low, moderate or high intensity. Most often than not, these symptoms are of moderate intensity. The main sign of the development of carpal tunnel syndrome are, at first, a pinching sensation in the fingers, especially at night. The shaking or relaxing of the hand can diminish this symptom. At night, there is the tendency to bend the wrist of the hand, thus adding to the pressure that is laid upon the median nerve. Sometimes, light or unbearable pain may appear, muscle weakness and even muscular atrophy.
There are many therapeutic options that can be combined depending on the developmental stage of the illness. If it is not in an advanced state, treating preexisting conditions, modifying daily activities, protecting the wrists and administering anti-inflammatory medicine and painkillers should suffice. Physiokinetic treatment is effective during all the stages of the disease. Alternative medicine also offers some treatment alternatives that could be effective in relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as acupuncture, magnet therapy or a visit to the chiropractor.
Surgical treatment, which involves the decompression of the median nerve, is indicated only if the patient does not get better after a couple of months of pharmaceutical and physiokinetic treatment. If the symptoms are serious and they affect the patient’s quality of life, or if the medical investigations conducted on the patient show severe damaging of the median nerve, surgical treatment is also highly recommended.
The most effective way to prevent this illness is to avoid overworking your hands, but also to treat other diseases that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, maintain an appropriate weight, avoid smoking, improve hand flexibility through exercise, ceasing all activities that might cause local discomfort, avoiding the excess of salt, because this can cause swelling, avoiding extremely cold temperature and using wrist orthotics.