Carpal Tunnel Q & A
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is the small tube through which the blood vessels and nerves associated with the hand travel. As a person ages, constant use of the wrist and the deterioration of the bones in the area can result in inflammation and the buildup of calcium that begin to narrow the tunnel. This places pressure on the nerves and the blood vessels which results in numbness, tingling, and in some cases, pain. Stretching the wrists using different exercises will help to keep the tunnel open, but some symptoms may remain. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, pain, and limited range of motion, depending on how severe the restriction is within the joint.
Who is Most at Risk for Carpal Tunnel?
Individuals who are most at risk for carpal tunnel are those who are constantly moving their hands and fingers, either because of a hobby or the repetitive movements of the hand. People who type, write, or draw for several hours a day are excellent candidates for carpal tunnel, as are those who constantly turn or twist wrenches. Athletes like tennis players, pitchers, and catchers are also at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Individuals who are at risk for the condition can sometimes reduce its effects by performing certain exercises that help to keep the wrist flexible. Stretching the wrist keeps the carpal tunnel open and allows for maximum range of motion.
How is Carpal Tunnel Treated?
Depending on the severity of the condition when it is diagnosed, the treatment plan often includes massage therapy to help maintain both flexibility and range of motion. Deep tissue massage also strengthens the muscles in the fingers, hand, wrist, and arm that will prevent inflammation and irritation. In severe cases, where the irritation has reached the point where the nerves are becoming damaged, the doctor may need to perform surgery to reopen the tunnel and provide more room for the blood vessels and nerves. The doctor will also remove any existing scar tissue that may have built up and has started to restrict movement.