Carpal tunnel syndrome is a median nerve that is pinched and inflamed. It manifests itself in a violation of the sensitivity of the hands and a gradual loss of motor activity. The cause of the disease is compression of the median nerve in the anatomical canal.
Vessels, nerves, synovial membranes, tendons pass through the carpal canal. Here is the median nerve, the main nerve of the hand, which runs from the brachial plexus to the fingertips. Responsible for coordinating movement, fine motor skills of the hands, constriction, and expansion of blood vessels from external stimuli, regulates the work of sweat glands. The width of the canal is limited on three sides by the bones and the transverse ligament.
The carpal tunnel itself is quite narrow, which contributes to the formation of various pathologies. Any additional narrowing entails squeezing the nerve fibers and blood vessels; blood supply is disrupted. Pathological processes proceed slowly, begin with a loss of physiological sensitivity, and lead to motor and trophic disorders. The clinical picture of the disease has clear symptoms, which makes it easy to make a diagnosis even at the initial stage.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
- Decreased brush sensitivity. At first, patients begin to notice numbness in the fingers immediately after waking up. Over time, the periods of paresthesia increase, and feelings of burning, pain, cold, or heat are added to it. Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by a simultaneous, radically opposite change insensitivity. In one area, it rises, but the other part of the palm does not feel anything.
- Burning pain in palms, with shooting in fingers. Initially, pain is felt in the zone of the pinched nerve; then, it gradually begins to affect the entire arm from the shoulder to the fingertips. This is accompanied by swelling of the wrist. As a rule, the dominant hand hurts the right hand in the right-hander, the left in the left-hander, but there are also bilateral symptoms.
- Muscle weakness and impaired motor activity. As a result of prolonged pinching and inflammation of the nerve fibers, the hand loses muscle strength, restricting movement. It becomes difficult to handle small objects, as when buttoning up. The function of grasping and then holding objects weakens. A gradual decrease in the working capacity of the hand leads to muscle atrophy and deformity of the hand.
- Lesions of the autonomic nervous system. This is expressed in a pale and sometimes cyanotic color of the hand, dry skin, brittle nails, cold hands.
Naturally, carpal tunnel syndrome affects the general physical and mental state of the patient. He loses his ability to work, the quality of life decreases. Regular pain and constant discomfort increase at night, which interferes with normal sleep, causing insomnia.
A characteristic feature of this disease is that the patient can relieve discomfort on his own without resorting to medications. It is enough to put your hands down, move your fingers, shake your hands, stretch them, do massage, gymnastics. These manipulations help restore blood supply, but, unfortunately, not for long since they do not eliminate the causes.
The median nerve-injured syndrome occurs when the nerve is compressed. The compression could be caused by the different factors more typical for female patients. Such reasons can be summed up into the following items:
- menopause hormonal changes in female organism which affect most organs’ functions;
- inheritance factors due to genetic ties and DNA structure;
- traumas caused by external triggers;
- development of anomalies which could be associated with the other diseases or disorders;
- synovitis meaning the inflammatory pain in the case of joints and ligaments;
- tenosynovitis related to inflammation of the ligaments or their case;
- diseases of the joints which are dangerous for health and even life of the respective patients;
- innocent or cancerous tumors;
- edema diseases which are typical signs during endocrine illness or pregnancy.
Trauma to the carpal tunnel is often chronic and stemming from professional activities. Pathology is typical for musicians, people who type a lot on the keyboard, and those who perform minor, monotonous work with their fingers.
When a median nerve is compressed, and its blood supply is disrupted, this leads to degenerative changes and proliferation of connective tissue through the extended period. The disease begins to develop when perception is disturbed, neuropathic pain syndrome appears. The illness progress anticipates motor function effects and motor disorders.
The negative feature of neurological diseases is that they are closely connected with the other nervous disorders untreated or unexamined properly. Therefore, you should be aware of universal factors for all neurology-related ailments to keep strong and healthy bones, joints, ligaments, and blood vessels.
Warning Signs of Carpal Tunnel
The disease begins with acute and permanent pain impulses, inflammation, pins and needles in the heel of the affected hand, numbness reactions for an extended period. Seizures usually occur at night. The clinical cases could describe the painful lesions in one arm, but the syndrome can be bilateral. Rubbing the problem area and shaking arms allows to get rid of unpleasant sensations; however, such procedures are helpful only for a short time.
As the disease progresses, paresthesias and impaired motor function are added to the pain. To this extent, the patient feels numbness. Compression of the median nerve leads to difficulty grasping objects with the thumb, impaired flexion of fingers 1 to 3; this creates problems in everyday life and restricts professional activities.
Moreover, such vegetative disorders accompany cold hands, inflammatory sensitization, swelling, and redness.
To reach practical relief effects, the potential patient should receive the correct diagnostic procedure. You should understand that the complete clinical picture, including pain investigation, paresthesia in the innervation zone of the median nerve, and fixation of disturbances lead to the diagnosis of the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms proved after a conversation with a patient and a neurological examination. The primary diagnostic actions are quite straightforward. The doctor should knock the area of the hand nerve compartment, and the clear painful reactions would prove the tunnel syndrome. Passive hand movements provoke the development of unpleasant signs; the neurologists call this phenomenon the Fauville symptom.
To confirm the diagnosis, the following examinations are carried out:
- computed tomography;
The above diagnostic techniques help gain a reliable neurology diagnosis and prepare the treatment plan for a positive outcome.
The main causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are domestic, industrial, and sports injuries and post-traumatic consequences. It will be possible to get rid of unpleasant sensations and relieve pain in the arm after a preliminary neurology diagnosis. Lone Star Neurology specialists offer clinical research services, diagnostics by inspection, x-ray, electromyography, and nerve conduction analysis.
Do not self-medicate, this can lead to serious consequences. Contact us for a consultation with a qualified neurologist at Lone Star Neurology.
- Does the carpal tunnel go away?
It won’t go away on its own. But, in some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome of the hands can be cured by normalizing work activity, reducing physical activity, and eliminating stress on the joints of the elbows and shoulders.
- What does carpal tunnel syndrome feel like when pregnant?
Hormones produced during pregnancy can lead to fluid retention, which can cause wrist swelling. With carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnant complains of pain and numbness in the thumb, index, middle and radial parts of the ring fingers.
- What happens if you let the carpal tunnel go untreated?
Poor grip strength can cause objects to fall out of the hand frequently. You can sometimes feel sharp shooting pains in the forearm. Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome can also lead to muscle atrophy in hand, especially the muscles at the base of the thumb on the palmar surface.
- How do doctors check for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome includes the collection of complaints, the history of their development, a neurological examination with a sensitivity test, testing the strength of the muscles of the hand, as well as performing special tests.