Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), which is also called a repetitive strain or repetitive stress injury (RSI). Cumulative trauma disorders are currently the number one job related ailments in the United States. They cause almost all lower back and neck problems, as well as the majority of shoulder, knee, foot, and other joint pains. The wrist is the most common injury with the hand being second. By 1995, Carpal tunnel syndrome had increased to 50 percent of all reported job-related injuries. Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the forearms or hands. Pain is often felt in the wrist, thumb and first two fingers. This is the area of the hand supplied by the median nerve. No matter what your job or how you developed it, carpal tunnel syndrome can be very debilitating.
There are eight bones in your wrist known as carpal bones. They form a U-shape that has a wide band-like ligament across the top (palm side) known as the flexor retinaculum (a.k.a. transverse carpal ligament). Together they form what is known as the carpal tunnel. When someone uses their hands and wrists excessively, the wrist flexor, forearm pronator and numerous finger muscles receive repetitive stress. This causes a build-up of fibrotic adhesions or scar tissue that makes the muscles shorter and tighter. It is sort of like adding straw to a camel’s back until his back eventually breaks. Of course, a severe injury to the muscles can add a lot of scar tissue at one time. When the tightness in the muscles reaches a certain level it leads to misalignments of the wrist, hand and forearm bones. The tightness also causes tendinitis of the wrist and finger flexor muscles. The increased stress causes the muscles to build up more scar tissue at an ever-increasing rate.
As the tendinitis progresses and the misalignments worsen, there is eventually enough inflammation and swelling to put pressure on the median nerve that goes through the carpal tunnel. This pressure causes neuritis (nerve inflammation) and neuralgia (nerve pain) in the palm side of the wrist and hand. It also affects normal nerve flow to the muscles that the median nerve innervates (controls). These key muscles involved in carpal tunnel syndrome are now weaker and more easily over-stressed. As they accumulate more damage and become tighter, the CTS progresses more rapidly.
Many of my patients were misdiagnosed with CTS prior to coming to my office. Most of them had only a simple tendinitis of the wrist, hand, thumb or finger muscles. If a problem is musculoskeletal, when you move the joint or use it, the pain is generally worse. Whether you have minor or acute carpal tunnel syndrome, please check out my instructional video – Treat Your Own Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. My patients who use my instruction experience major to full relief of their CTS symproms, so now I invite you to take your condition into your own hands. Feel free to comment and a response will be made!