Are You at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

25 Mar

 By: Daniel O’Toole, MD Covenant Clinic Oelwein

Common Factors: Female, 30+ years of age, pregnant, or in menopause.
That’s right. The population with the biggest risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is females over the age of 30 who are pregnant or in menopause. According to WebMD, having two or more of these factors increase women’s chances significantly over men to be diagnosed with CTS.

Some other basic risk factors include doing activities that use finger and hand movements over and over again, previous wrist injuries, being overweight, diabetes, thyroid disease, and having a cyst on the tendon sheath in the wrist.   

CTS develops from pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve runs from the forearm to the hand, and when a small piece in your wrist called the carpal tunnel exerts pressure on the nerve, CTS occurs. CTS may cause a number of signs, including:

  • Numbness or pain in your hand or wrist.
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers of one or both hands, except for the little finger.
  • Numbness or pain that gets worse with the use of the hand.
  • Occasional aching pain from the hand to the elbow.
  • A weak grip.

If you have experienced any of these signs it is important to stop any activity that you think may be causing the numbness or pain. Other prevention or home treatments are to:

  • Use your whole hand to grasp objects.
  • Switch hands and change positions when doing repetitive motions.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Ask a health professional about wearing a wrist splint.
  • Pay attention to your posture.
  • Maintain good overall fitness. 

The sooner you start treating the warning signs of CTS, the better your chances are of getting rid of the symptoms and avoiding surgery. It is important to call your local health care provider if you still experience pain after home treatments. If CTS is left unattended, permanent damage to the nerves and muscles in the hand may result.

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