CTS Symptoms: How to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or CTS is also known as Median Nerve Compression. It is a condition that leads to tingling, weakness, and numbness in the hand. It is caused by pressure on the hand’s median nerve, which runs down the arm’s length, goes through the passage of the wrist, and ends in your hand.

In this blog, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and possible diagnosis and treatment for CTS.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Symptoms of CTS develop gradually; at first, they may come and go. As the CTS gets worse, the hand develops more muscle cramping, pain, and loss of grip; due to the hand muscles shrinking.

The CTS symptoms that show up are:

  • A shock-like feeling through the fingers
  • Tingling, itching, and burning numbness in the thumb and palm, or the middle and index fingers
  • Fingers feeling fuzzy and swollen that get worse at night.
  • “A weak pinch”
  • A tingling feeling that moves up the arm into the shoulder
  • Trouble holding things and weakness in the hand

During the day, one may notice a flare-up of these symptoms when reading a book, driving, or holding something with the wrist bent.

At night time, one may also notice the hand becoming numb or falling asleep because of the hand’s position while sleeping.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

CTS can be caused by:

  • Bones and joint diseases, like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Repetitive wrist movements like typing and tasks place the hands lower than the wrists.
  • Fluid retention is caused by hormonal and metabolic body changes like pregnancy or menopause.
  • Trauma and fractures to the wrist.
  • Blood sugar levels change, like with diabetes.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Gout.
  • Ganglion cysts.
  • Tumors.
  • Amyloidosis.

Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One may have a higher risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if they:

  • Have a family member who has CTS or has small carpal tunnels.
  • Have a job that involves repetitive motions of the wrist, hand, or arm. Such as; keyboard occupations, performing assembly line work, cashier, musician, baker, construction work, or a sewer or knitter.
  • Females are three to ten times more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than males. This is most probably because females have smaller carpal tunnels.
  • Have a fractured or dislocated wrist.
  • Have obesity, diabetes, or metabolic disorders. These conditions may affect the body’s nerves, making them vulnerable to nerve compression that eventually leads to the development of CTS.
  • Have habits like smoking, high salt intake, overeating, or a sedentary lifestyle.

Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, doctors carry out tests to determine whether; there are other nerves affected, whether there is a medical condition affecting the nerves directly, and the severity of the CTS.

The tests are as follows:

  1. The Physical Exam – The doctor will conduct a detailed evaluation of the wrist, neck, hand, and shoulder to determine the cause of nerve pressure. Physical tests include the Tinel sign test and the Phalens test. The doctor looks at the wrist for signs of swelling and tenderness.
  2. The Tinel sign test involves tapping the palm side of the wrist or flexing the arms fully with the arms extended. The Phalens test, on the other hand, tests wrist flexion.
  3. Electromyogram test – The muscle’s electrical activity is tested using a thin electrode put into the muscle.
  4. Imaging tests – These include ultrasound, X-rays, or MRI exams that enable the doctor to have a good look at your tissues and bones.
  5. Nerve Conduction Studies – Electrodes are taped onto the skin to measure the hand and arm nerve signals.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

CTS treatment aims to slow down its progression and relieve symptoms by reducing the pressure on the median nerve. The Academy of Orthopedic Surgeries released guidelines in 2008 for the effective treatment of CTS. The recommendation made was, if possible, to manage CTS pain without surgery.

Treatment of CTS depends on the symptoms and extent of the condition’s progression.

Non-Surgical Treatments of CTS

  • Exercise – Strengthening and stretching exercises will make one feel better. Shaking out the hands and wrist flexor stretches can help early on in the condition’s onset. However, with time, you will need other exercises to deal with the numbness, such as nerve gliding exercises that can help make the nerves move better within the carpal tunnel.
  • Medication – Your doctor may administer cortisone steroid injections or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen.
  • Immobilization – The doctor may recommend wearing a splint to keep the wrist from moving, especially at night. This lessens the pressure on the nerves and may help get rid of the tingling and numbness so you can sleep better at night.
  • Treatment of all underlying conditions that may have led to the development of CTS.
  • Heat treatments by hand therapists.
  • Using a cold pack on the affected hand.
  • Wearing fingerless gloves or having a hand warmer nearby to keep the hands warm.

Surgical Treatment of CTS

Doctors recommend surgery when the CTS has severe symptoms or does not respond to treatment. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery is for carpal tunnel release and to increase its size to decrease pressure on the tendons passing through the space. The ligament that covers the carpal tunnel, called the transverse carpal ligament, is cut and released.

Surgery has an extremely high success rate of relieving tingling and numbness, at over ninety percent. If you do not get symptom relief after surgery, the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome diagnosis was probably not the one.

Your surgeon or therapist will recommend the right scar massage and exercise to help your hand return to normal function.

Get Help from Family Chiropractic Care in Longview, WA

Family Chiropractic Care is a team of chiropractors and massage therapists based in Longview, WA. For more information on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, feel free to visit our clinic at 1815 Hudson Street, Longview, WA 98632; or call us today at .