Understanding Risk Factors and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common neurological disorder that occurs due to compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel at the wrist. This condition is the most common mononeuropathy resulting from nerve compression in the upper limb. Risk factors that can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include exposure to vibration, assembly work, food processing and factory labor, industrial, textile and computer users. CTS can usually be caused by trauma, dislocation/fracture, repetitive tapping and flexion/extension movements, infection, metabolic disorders, endocrine, neoplasms, degenerative diseases, inflammation, etc.

The occurrence of CTS is due to increased pressure on the wrist tunnel, which causes entrapment and compression of the median nerve. This condition causes disruption in the microvascular structure of the nerve due to reduced blood flow to the median nerve. This can cause swelling and lack of oxygenation (hypoxia) which results in degeneration of axons and the median nerve. To diagnose CTS, doctor usually takes a medical history and performs a physical examination. Doctors may also recommend electrodiagnostic testing of the median nerve. The electrodiagnostic examination will stimulate the muscles and nerves in the patient's wrist to determine if there are any physiological abnormalities.

Clinical symptoms of CTS include numbness and paresthesia in digits I, II, III, and half of digit IV. The initial symptoms usually occur when the patient wakes up at night with numbness or pain in these fingers. Pain occurs during activities that position the wrist in excessive flexion or extension or with excessive repetitive movements. Symptoms decrease with shaking of the hand. In more advanced stage, numbness is constantly felt and motor disorders are more apparent with complaints of weakness, resulting in frequent dropping of held objects. Therefore, if you have symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that particularly interfere with your daily activities, consult a doctor immediately.