Conditions that Lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a passageway in the wrist through which the median nerve and the flexor tendons pass. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common problem in this area and it occurs because of compression of this median nerve. There are many different causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Any factor that reduces the space in the carpal tunnel results in CTS.
Prolonged repetitive hand and wrist movements are the common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Higher incidence of CTS is reported among homemakers, factory workers, cashiers, musicians, secretaries, computer operators and sewers. Repetitive hand movement and also the use of vibrating tools keep the wrist in constant flexion which can cause the membranes surrounding the flexor tendons to swell. This swelling compresses the median nerve in the wrist causing your symptoms. There is little evidence that prolonged use of computer is one of the causes carpal tunnel syndrome but it may cause a different type of hand pain.
Another one of the common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is pregnancy. This is because of hormonal change and fluid retention during pregnancy. The expectant mothers usually feel the symptoms on the second half of pregnancy in which swelling or edema of the body especially in the hand is much prominent. The retention of fluid in the hand causes pressure on the median nerve. CTS will eventually resolve after the mother gives birth to the baby because the hormonal pattern will be back to normal and there will be no more fluid retention which will then reduce swelling all over the body especially in the affected wrist.
Other disease conditions that can be considered as causes of carpal tunnel syndrome
- Diabetic neuropathy (decreased nerve function)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus and other chronic kidney insufficiencies tend to build up proteins in the hand called beta 2-microglobulin
- Hormonal changes or disorders are also associated with CTS because these diseases build up fluid or what you call edema
- Broken, dislocated bones or any type of trauma on your wrist bones and also bone spurs can take up a space in the carpal tunnel
- Other diseases like Down Syndrome, Amyloidosis, Acromegaly and tumor on the median nerve
- Autoimmune diseases are also factors that will cause inflammation of the entire body because it attacks its own tissues
- Some medications also increase the risk for temporary CTS and those are interleukin-2 which is for the immune system and warfarin which is an anti-clotting drug.
Repeated or prolonged grip on anything, like driving or holding a tool and smoking affects the blood circulation on the median nerve that may contribute in the development of CTS. Genetic is also one factor that is considered to be one of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome especially when CTS is developed during childhood. There’s also a study that indicates women are three times more likely to acquire carpal tunnel syndrome than men and it is much common on adults.
You should be well aware of these risk factors in order to prevent or at least lessen the chances of the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. At the first appearance of the symptoms, you should consult your doctor to treat CTS immediately and to prevent further damage on your median nerve. Avoidance of these risk factors would also help you to maintain the normal function of your hand or wrist.
Occupational Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
We may name few up to many different causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), but how well do we understand these causes? There are different jobs that can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
If you are an internet savvy and have carpal tunnel syndrome then I’m pretty sure you have already searched for the different causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. But this may not be enough; you have to know that understanding the disorder and how it is connected to your current job will make you comprehend on the effects it can bring in to your life. This topic will help you know how and what jobs lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel is roofed by an inflexible transverse carpal ligament also termed as flexor retinaculum. The narrow tunnel is floored by the carpal bones of the wrist. Nine finger flexors tendons pass through the tunnel and the nerve called the median nerve.
The median nerve supplies the sensation on the three and a half fingers on the lateral or radial side of the hand. It has also motor functions, the muscles of the thumb is supplied by this nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neurogenic disorder that involves compression of the median nerve within the already narrowed carpal tunnel. The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome may include physical trauma such as fracture, medical conditions or problems such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes mellitus. Normally carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur in a pregnant woman.
Occupations or daily activities of some individuals may also trigger this disorder. Other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include jobs that require frequent hand and wrist motions. Excessive flexion and extension, strong gripping and vibrations without ample rest periods can strain the wrist and cause carpal tunnel syndrome. These jobs are mechanics, typist, programmers, and drillers. Housewives can also be affected.
How do these activities become the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome? How does it happen? How will you know if it is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The finger flexors within the carpal tunnel glide or move as they contract and relax during different activities. This may cause adhesions between these tendons. As the condition becomes chronic these adhesions may irritate the only nerve within the tunnel, the median nerve.
The surrounding structures of the carpal tunnel are inflexible, meaning they may remain narrow even though structures within it or tissues surrounding it become inflamed. This can increase the pressure and compression on the nerve.
An irritated nerve can cause intense pain, especially felt during the night. Pain, tingling sensations and numbness are three of the most common symptoms of this disorder. It is a nocturnal pain because the intensity of pain felt by the person awakens the individual. The doctor must be seen so as not to worsen the conditions.
Poor ergonomics is one the most frequent causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Our hands and wrist, if used frequently at work must be positioned in neutral and relaxed positions. If your work requires you to do a lot of typing, wrist flexion and straining of finger flexors occurrence of CTS is possible.
Mechanical workers who use screwdrivers at work require a lot of gripping to complete tasks. These hand functions also contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pushing down a ratchet can also contribute to the development of the syndrome.
Repetitive hand motion is also one of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Hairdressers who do different hairstyles and haircuts each day use a lot of wrist motions. Painters who use spray guns to complete their work of arts and janitors who sweep and do a lot of scrubbing in a day do also experience numbness and tingling sensations in the hands.
Did you know that homemakers are prone to this syndrome too? Yes, since a homemaker is an occupation, our mothers do experience some tingling and pain sensations in their hands once in a while. This is true especially to those who do some knitting activities.
If you think that only wrist motions can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, then think again. Remember that finger flexors are also contributors in compressing the median nerve, and this can happen if your job requires you to do fine finger and hand functions. If you work as a locksmith who makes and repairs keys then you must be aware of the CTS symptoms. Electronics workers who assemble small parts of the different electronic gadgets, they have to use their fingers to do fine microelectronics parts.
Strong gripping and different mechanical stress put on palms also are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Gardeners need to have a good grip on their garden hand weeder when weeding and removing small plant roots in gardening. Butcher and poultry processing workers also need strong grips when handling their instruments in cutting and de-boning the meat products. These activities put mechanical stresses on the palms.
These are just few of the jobs that cause the symptoms, you can always check online if your occupation is one of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. Knowing the risk your job can bring you is the wiser thing to do.