What is tunnel syndrome and how to deal with it?
Tunnel syndrome is not just an unfamiliar phrase, but a series of unpleasant symptoms that many people face. Find out what this condition is and how it manifests.
What it is?
What is carpal tunnel syndrome? This is a condition characterized by a variety of symptoms and arising from the compression of the median nerve in the carpal canal, which is formed by carpal tendons and bones. Older people, especially women, are most susceptible to this condition, but it also often develops in individuals whose professions involve monotonous flexion-extensor movements of the wrist. These include workers in workshops and factories, office workers, pianists, motorcycle races, sign language interpreters, artists, bowlers, and drummers.
The mechanism of development of the tunnel syndrome is based on the structural features of the carpal tunnel. It is very narrow: the two side and bottom walls are formed by bones, and the upper part is closed by a transverse carpal ligament.Between these elements are the flexor of the fingers, as well as the median nerve, which is responsible for the sensitivity of the first three fingers and part four. And when this nerve is crushed and compressed, tunnel syndrome develops.
Interesting fact: there is also an elbow tunnel syndrome, which develops as a result of squeezing the nerve in the area of the elbow joint.
Why does it arise?
The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are as follows:
- Diseases of the joints, accompanied by their increase. These include arthrosis, arthritis, gout.
- Over the age of 50 years increases the risk of the condition in question.
- Features of professional activity, involving the execution of monotonous routine movements, which involve the use of wrists. For example, it can be assembly of parts, work at a computer, playing drums and so on.
- Traumatic injuries of the wrist joint, such as fractures, sprains, sprains, severe bruises, cracks.
- Cysts or other neoplasms localized in the area of the carpal canal and contributing to compression of the median nerve.
- Some systemic diseases that affect articular tissues. First of all, they include rheumatoid arthritis.
- Infections affecting the functioning of the joints: gonococcal, tubercular, streptococcal arthritis.
- Certain endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes.
- Renal failure, in which some substances do not have time to be excreted from the body naturally and because of this, they are deposited in various tissues, including the joints.
Since the median nerve is responsible for sensitivity and mobility, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be many and varied. The most common are the following:
- trembling of fingers, a feeling of their swelling, increase in size;
- numbness, impaired fingertip or tingling;
- weakness of the hand and the first three fingers when trying to bend them;
- feeling stiff, especially in the morning;
- soreness with bending of the wrist, lumbago.
These symptoms can occur almost at any time, and often they do not depend on movements that provoke the onset of a tunnel symptom.Sometimes they start to bother a few hours after work, at night, causing insomnia, in the morning after waking up, and also when trying to use the wrist, for example, while holding any objects in their hands.
Manifestations can occur periodically and disappear for a while. But if the lifestyle is preserved, and the carpal median nerve continues to be compressed, then the syndrome can become chronic and cause serious or even irreversible changes. For example, there may be a decrease in mobility and sensitivity, stiffness, constant soreness, muscle atrophy, the inability to perform simple everyday manipulations, such as driving, buttoning up, holding objects.
A number of tests are used for the diagnosis, allowing to detect the disease during examination by a neurologist. These include the techniques of Tinel and Falena. In addition, there are other diagnostic methods, namely x-ray and electroneuromyography.
Identify tunnel syndrome can be independently several methods:
- When tapping the wrist over the area of his channel, shooting in the fingers may be observed.
- With the maximum possible flexion of the hand in the area of the wrist composition for a minute, there is a tingling, numbness.
- Connect the back parts of the hands, lower the hands, try to bend the wrists at a right angle, and point your elbows in different directions. If discomfort begins to occur within sixty seconds, they may signal the beginning of the development of the syndrome.
How to treat carpal tunnel syndrome? Depending on the severity of the condition and the degree of impact on the median nerve, therapy may include the following areas:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for oral or topical use to eliminate pain. If the pain syndrome persists and increases, the doctor may advise the introduction of corticosteroids into the joint.
- In some cases, prescribed drugs that improve blood circulation.
- Sometimes shown fixation of the wrist joint, which will allow to limit the amplitude of the flexor-extension movements of the wrist and thereby prevent compression of the median nerve. Specialized tires can be worn during sleep or in the process of performing routine duties, for example, when working at a computer.
- To exclude the progression of the syndrome and stop the pathological changes, you can change the scope of activities and exclude any manipulations and movements that cause nerve squeezing.
- In severe cases and with irreversible changes, surgical treatment is suggested, which involves surgical excision of the transverse carpal ligament for the purpose of decompression (release) of the median nerve.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, avoid frequent wrist routine movements and monitor its position so that the wrist joint is in normal condition. At work, periodically rest, warm up, do exercises to relieve tension: rotating with brushes, squeezing a manual expander.
Tunnel syndrome is an unpleasant condition. But it is removable if you notice the symptoms in time and begin to act.