Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment
Tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome is a neurological disorder. It is included in the group of tunnel neuropathies. It is manifested by prolonged pain and numbness of the fingers. The most common cause of the appearance is a prolonged compression of the median nerve between the bones and tendons of the wrist.
Women are observed much more often than in males. The consequence of the manifestation of pain is a pinched nerve, which, in turn, can be caused by the tightening of tendons that pass very close to the nerve, as well as a thickening or edema of the nerve itself. This occurs as a result of constant stress on the same muscles of the wrist. Often the first unpleasant sensations arise when the computer is used for a long time, when the brush is in a suspended state.
In those cases where a person takes a long time to do office work or such activities that put a lot of pressure on the wrists, the disease can give a complication in the form of an ulnar tunnel syndrome.
In fact, any condition or process that reduces the size of the carpal canal or increases the volume of tissues within the canal itself can cause symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common causes are sprains, dislocations and wrist fractures. In addition, the causes may be:
- Pregnancy. During this period, too much fluid accumulates in the body, which leads to swelling
- Diabetes. A person has problems with nerve fibers in the case of progression of this disease;
- change in the thyroid function, in the case of extraction of half or all of the gland. The person begins to gain weight, which increases the pressure on the wrist. Changing the hormonal background also adversely affects the nerve fibers.
If a person has any of the above problems, then he will experience unpleasant and tingling sensations with:
- prolonged use of force
- awkward body position
- Wrong location or wrist rest
- Repeating the same actions with your hands
- elevated body temperature;
- prolonged vibration (for example, traveling by car or bus)
- long stay of the wrist on the weight (work at the computer).
All of the above factors can be an impetus to the progression of serious problems. In addition, alcohol, smoking or obesity can worsen the situation.
Also, the causes of the onset can be processes in the body, such as:
- hormonal failure
- hereditary predisposition
- age category
- infections and fractures.
At an early stage of progression, the tunnel syndrome manifests as a tremor, itching and a slight tingling sensation. Some symptoms may appear much later, after the completion of any active action by the wrist. The late stage of the disease is characterized by significant numbness, pain and heaviness in the hands, sensitivity decreases in the hands, the sensation of tingling in the fingers increases, which becomes unpleasant and annoying.
Often people who are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome have insomnia, which is associated with pain and cramps in the wrist. With the most neglected syndrome, muscle atrophy is observed, a person can no longer clench his hand into a fist. His hands and hands cease to «obey» him. People who have experienced symptoms of the syndrome lose the opportunity to lift heavy things, use a mobile phone for a long time, read a book on weight, spend a lot of time working with a PC, and spend more than 15 minutes sitting at the wheel of a car. They also have problems with fine motor skills.
Doctors say that often the symptoms of the syndrome fall during sleep. In any case, at the initial stage, the symptoms are temporary, changing the position of the hands and shaking them helps to get rid of uncomfortable sensations. In the late stages of the progression of the pathological process, such measures are not effective and discomfort does not eliminate.
Diagnosis of the tunnel syndrome of the wrist itself will not work, because a simple person can not distinguish the usual short-term numbness from a painful syndrome. Therefore, you should visit a highly qualified specialist.
At the reception, the doctor will conduct a complete examination and prescribe the appropriate tests (may be different depending on why the unpleasant sensations appeared). During the examination, the doctor can identify:
- Numbness of the entire palm or some fingers — large, index, middle and partially nameless. The little finger remains without a lesion, which can become an important factor in the diagnosis for specialists
- Wiggle over the area of injury. There is also a sharp manifestation of tingling at the fingertips;
- the maximum degree of wrist folding for one minute leads to complete numbness, colic, or weakening of the wrist muscles
For additional diagnosis, doctors can use a slight current charge to determine the speed of nerve conduction. Also resort to radiographic examination, which makes it possible to exclude other diseases or inflammatory processes.
Treatment of tunnel wrist syndrome is possible in several ways. The choice of one of them directly depends on the stage and symptoms of inflammation of the nerve fiber. Treatment can be:
- independent, but based on the recommendations of the doctor. It is usually used in the simplest cases (at an early stage). To do this, use warming ointments and a fixing bandage for the wrist. It helps relieve symptoms when a person is asleep, and also contributes to their complete disappearance. To independent methods of treatment can also be attributed to a change in working conditions;
- medication. The simplest anti-inflammatory drugs will help in reducing pain and discomfort. Steroid injections have a place to be, but are only temporary. Some simple exercises for the wrist will give an additional effect;
- an appeal to a physiotherapist. The treatment that he can offer for his part is to optimize the patient’s workplace, to consult about the correct position of the body for work in general and wrist in particular. Give advice on what physical exercises need to be done to alleviate symptoms and suggest methods of prevention;
- Surgical intervention. Such a cardinal method of treatment is addressed only in case of manifestation of the most neglected symptoms, when a person can not perform almost no movements with his brush. The operation of the open type is a small incision of the transverse ligament of the wrist, after which the skin is sutured, and the ligaments remain separated. This is a simple operation, after which the patient can go home on the same day. Symptoms of tunnel syndrome are minimized immediately after surgery. But a complete recovery can take from a month to a year, depending on the stage of the syndrome.
In modern society, a huge number of people spend most of the day at the computer. Therefore, the main preventive method is the correct arrangement of things in the workplace, on which the computer and keyboard are located. From this it follows that the main measure to prevent the appearance of the syndrome is to adjust the height of the stool, relative to the table, which, in turn, depends on the growth of the person. An armchair for work must necessarily be with armrests. The positive effect is given by a special (and, maybe, self-made) stand under the wrist. It is also important to give respite to the joints at least 1-2 minutes per hour of work on equipment.
The most effective method of preventing tunnel syndrome is light gymnastics for the brush. Exercises are performed 10 times per hand:
- strongly squeeze into the hand in a fist and with the same force to open the palm as much as possible
- rotational movements with each finger clockwise and counterclockwise
- squeeze brushes into a fist and perform circular movements of the wrist in all directions
- merge your palms, then take all your fingers as far as you can, and then cross them with power
- fold the palms together, tightly pressing, and in turn take away each pair of fingers
- Cross your fingers in the lock, both palms are horizontal. Bend your fingers down, thereby raising your wrists to the top
- alternately join the thumb pad with all the fingers on the hand
- join hands in front of the chest and, without opening them, slowly lower the hand below the waist, and then return to the starting position
- place the palms as in the paragraph above, and squeeze them with effort.