The carpal tunnel is a space between the bones of the wrists. It allows the median nerve to travel from the arm into the hand. Inflammation of the soft tissues in the carpal tunnel can cause them to swell. Compression of the median nerve from the swollen tissues results in carpal tunnel syndrome.
According to Medicine Net, there are many risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome. Some of them relate to one’s occupation.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes
The soft tissue inflammation that causes carpal tunnel syndrome can result from repetitive motions of the hands and wrists. Many people believe that computer use increases the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. However, research shows that it occurs more frequently in people with more physical jobs, such as cleaning, sewing, manufacturing and meatpacking. Another risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome is the use of hand tools that produce heavy vibrations.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
Because carpal tunnel syndrome involves nerve compression, it can affect sensation in the hands, especially the first three fingers. As a result of the decreased sensation, people with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience numbness and tingling of the thumb, index and middle finger. They can have difficulty distinguishing between cold and heat. Carpal tunnel syndrome does not cause swelling of the fingers, but sometimes patients report that their fingers feel as though they are bigger than they should be.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause weakness of the first three fingers, making tasks such as holding eating utensils or buttoning a shirt more difficult. The weakness gets worse as the condition progresses.
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops gradually. Nevertheless, the prognosis is better when treatment begins soon after identifying the symptoms.