What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?


With the birth of technology and the rise in popularity of the cellular phones as a mode of communicating with people, we have become addicted with using the short messaging system. Text messaging via cellphone is also another way of communicating these days.

Because of these new avenues of communication, people make use of keypads all the time. And though this is an instant and fast way, not to mention cheap way, to stay in touch with people, it also has its disadvantages. One of them is putting strain in the hands, particularly in the fingers.

When you type, you are exercising much effort with your fingertips. You are pressing letters in order to compose messages. And though it is not exactly dangerous, it can be exhausting for the fingers if done all the time. One of the problems that may occur due to the repetitive typing is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition that is characterized by pain in the wrist, fingers and sometimes even the whole arm. It is one of the most common forms of what scientists and doctors call the entrapment neuropathies, which involves the compression or traumatization of the peripheral nerves.

Carpal tunnel, to those who are not familiar with the term, is that part of the wrist at the base of the palm. It is a narrow passageway composed of ligaments and bones that houses and protects the tendons in the hands and the nerve fibers.

This is where we can find the median nerve, which runs from the wrist to the forearms. This is the nerve cell that controls the sensations in the area of ​​the palm, including the fingers. This also acts as the messaging headquarters of impulses for the fingers. This is why when the median nerve is compressed or affected in some way, the fingers may find it hard to move.

Pain occurs when tendons in the carpal tunnel swell, making the already cramped space in the tunnel all the tighter. This compresses the median nerve, resulting in the numbness of the area and weakness of the surrounding muscles.

There is currently no one specific reason for the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome. Often, it is the combination of a lot of factors that affect the median nerve and the tendons. Experts suspect that it is primarily due to congenital predisposition rather than anything that is developed from the environment. There are just some people who have smaller carpal tunnels than other people, so predisposing them to the problem.

Still, there are also some factors in the environment that may contribute to the exacerbation of the problem. People who have suffered some trauma or injury at the wrist may cause swapping which in turn may affect the median nerve. The same goes with sprains and fractures. Over-activity of the pituitary glands, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis may also be factors that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Work stress especially with the repeated use vibrating hand tools and mechanical problems in the joints are also factors.

Women who retain fluids in their bodies during pregnancy or during menses also suffer from the condition. In some cases, doctors can not even pinpoint an exact cause for the problem.

Although it is widely believed that carpal tunnel syndrome is the effect of repeated and forceful movements of the hands such as when you are typing, there is still no clinical data that will conclusively confirm this. Still, repeated motions that are often performed may result in disorders such as bursitis and tendonitis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome should of course be differentiated with writer's cramp, which is a completely different problem. Writer's cramp is a condition where there is lack of coordination in the fine motor skills. This often results to an ache and painful pressure in the fingers, wrist and forearm.

Unfortunately, women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel. This is due because women have traditionally smaller carpal tunnels. The dominant hand or the one being used more is often the first one to be affected. Often, when both hands are already affected, the dominant hands will be much more painful than the other.