Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a disease of the wrist and hand, which is caused by abnormal pressure on the Median Nerve. As the Median Nerve passes through the wrist and into the hand, it travels through a tunnel-like structure called the Carpal Tunnel. This tunnel is located on the thumb side of the palm of the hand. Within this tunnel lie tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and the Median Nerve, all covered by a non-elastic tissue band called the Transverse Carpal Ligament. If one or more of the structures within the Carpal Tunnel become enlarged or swollen, it exerts pressure on the Median nerve, causing numbness, tingling, burning, pain, and weakness in the fingers and hand.
Symptoms: Symptoms usually begin gradually, and may consist of burning, tingling, pain, and/or, numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers, and in the palm of the hand. One can usually relate these symptoms to some activity that is associated with bending the wrists, such as knitting, typing, or driving. Frequently, these symptoms will occur during sleep, when many people sleep with their wrists flexed. As this disease progresses, one may eventually experience: tingling and numbness with all finger and hand activities; decreased strength in the hand and thumb; difficulty in making a fist; and inability to pick up small objects. If the pressure on the nerve is relieved early enough, the symptoms will usually be relieved.
Causes: There may be a developmental reason why some people develop this disease, and others do not. It is felt that some people are born with a narrower Carpal Tunnel, and this may predispose them to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. With a narrower Tunnel, it is easier for the Median Nerve to become compressed. It is felt that the most common cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is certain repetitive finger and thumb motions, when the hand is flexed either down or up at the wrist. These motions exert excessive pressure on the ligaments and tendons that lie within the Carpal Tunnel. The ligaments and tendons respond to this excessive pressure by swelling; and, because the covering of the Carpal Tunnel is non-elastic (has no "give") it cannot expand; therefore, the swollen structures press on the Median Nerve, causing the above symptoms.
Those people that are most at risk for experiencing the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include those that are engaged in the following activities:
- Computer keyboard typing
- Driving long distances
- Use of tools that produce vibrations in the hand, such as: hammers, saws, drills, and jack-hammers
- Repetitive assembly line work
- Folding materials such as laundry and paper products
- Knitting and sewing
Other, less common causes of Carpal Tunnel swelling may include cysts, tumors, fluid retention during pregnancy, arthritis, and wrist fractures.
Relief for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The most effective treatment that is recommended by physicians and therapists is immobilizing the wrist in a splint, to minimize and prevent those wrist motions which cause swelling in the Carpal Tunnel. This will reduce the pressure on the Median Nerve, and help to alleviate the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
One of the most effective, yet comfortable splints used today is the CMO Carpal Lock. This uniquely designed splint protects the wrist from movements that can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, yet leaves the hand and fingers free for normal use. There is no loss of hand and finger movement! This splint is ideal because it allows continuation of your normal daily activities, while protecting against the forces that cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We recommend this splint for use during the day. For more information about this uniquely designed splint, click here.
For use during sleep, when we have the tendency to flex our wrists, we recommend the Sleep Wrist Support. This support will help to comfortably maintain the wrist in a neutral position. This will prevent flexing of the wrist, which in turn prevents pressure on the Median Nerve. This action will eliminate the numbness, tingling, and pain that is felt upon awakening. For more information about this comfortable night-time support, click here.
In order to achieve the best results, it is recommended that the Carpal Lock be used during the day, and the Sleep Wrist Support be used during sleep. Click here for more information about our special offer: "24 Hours of Treatment."
Other treatment tips, which should be used in conjunction with the above products include:
- Applying ice to the palm and wrist, may help to reduce swelling and pain. Always apply the ice so that it is soothing, and not uncomfortably cold. Ice, and later heat, can easily be combined with compression when you use our Active Wrap Hot/Cold Therapy Wrist Wrap. This brace will not only provide your painful wrist and palm with soothing cold or heat, but it will gently cradle and protect it from further injury.
- Try to prevent your wrist from flexing and extending when doing chores. The Carpal Lock will do this for you.
- When using tools, make sure the handle fits your hand, and you can grasp the tool with your whole hand, rather than grasping with the tips of your fingers or thumbs.
- Reduce the speed your wrist and hands work at.
- Exercise your wrists and hands regularly at work. Take a one minute break every 30 minutes to perform some of the exercises shown below.
Range-of-motion exercises: Clench fist tightly for 5 seconds, then release, straightening your fingers all the way and keep them straight for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times for each hand.
Stretching exercises: Using one hand, bend the fingers of the other hand gently as far as you can, stretching the fingers and wrist. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times for each hand.
Isometric exercises: Clench fist with palm facing up. Use other hand to push down on fist, while providing resistance with the fist. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat with palm of clenched fist facing down. Repeat 5 times for each hand.
The following braces and splints are recommended by physicians and therapists because they comfortably protect the wrist from those movements that can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, yet they leave the hand and fingers free for normal use. There is no loss of normal hand and finger movement! These products are ideal because they allow continuation of your normal daily activities, while protecting against the forces that cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.