In many ways, modern technology makes our lives easier, more convenient, and more comfortable. However, sometimes, innovation can have potentially severe and chronic consequences. Our increasing dependency on all things digital and automated can have a negative impact on our physical strength, health, and wellness. Lower back pain, sitting disease, and text neck are just a few of the many chronic pain conditions that have surged over the last decade with our steadily increasing use of smart phones, computers, and other electronic devices.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Maintains Stronghold in Adult Population
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another chronic pain condition that's seen a significant increase across the U.S. in recent decades. This progressive disorder is marked by compression of the median nerve as it moves into the hand. Located in the palm of your hand (also known as the carpal tunnel), the median nerve drives sensation to surrounding extremities, including the long finger, index finger, thumb, and part of the ring finger. When this critical nerve is irritated or swollen, it malfunctions, causing pain and numbness on various levels.
Statistics indicate that carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common entrapment neuropathies, afflicting approximately 3 to 6 percent of adults in the general population. While a wide range of periphery factors can cause carpal tunnel, its growing presence amongst adults can also be directly attributed to modern workplace conditions where employees rely on keyboarding, technology, and machine automation to perform routine tasks. A 2015 report published by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention showed that 34% of workers at a poultry plant demonstrated signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel disease, requiring multiple workplace accommodations to reduce staff discomfort.
Presenting Symptoms and Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Understanding some of the many signs, symptoms, and causes associated with this chronic pain disorder can help you best manage this long-term, potentially debilitating condition. The syndrome is typically progressive, beginning with mild symptoms that gradually increase over time. Some common presenting symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Pain, numbness, and tingling in the first three fingers of either (or both) hands
- Burning sensations that travel up the arm
- Insomnia caused by wrist and hand pain at night
- Significant weakness in the hand muscles and inability to hold items
- "Pins and needles" feeling in hands
Any behavior or condition that compresses or irritates the median nerve may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there are several hereditary, physiological, and environmental risk factors that could increase the chances of developing the disorder:
Changes in our anatomic configuration can contribute to this chronic pain condition. Wrist fractures, dislocations, and/or arthritis can reduce carpal tunnel space, pressuring the median nerve.
Biological Makeup and Gender
People born with naturally smaller carpal tunnels may be more at risk to develop the syndrome. Even a slight irritation to the nerve can cause enough compression in the available space to ignite pain and discomfort. Also, statistics show that women are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than men. Many scientists believe this is because women often have a relatively smaller carpal tunnel than men.
Other Prevalent Conditions
Some chronic nerve-damaging and inflammatory conditions are also believed to increase vulnerability to carpal tunnel syndrome. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, kidney failure, and thyroid issues are a few of the many examples of periphery disorders that could compress the median nerve.
Patients who are overweight may have an increased risk of inflammation of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. Other lifestyle factors associated with the condition may also include smoking, high salt intake, and sitting disease.
There are several jobs and workplace environments that require repetitive wrist movements that can cause or exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Assembly line
Are You Suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Prolonged compression and irritation of the median nerve can ignite chronic, often debilitating, pain in the hands, fingers, and wrists. However, it is possible to treat the condition with significant results. Ergonomic strategies, routine adjustments, dietary and exercise changes, and a wide range of other non-invasive practices and procedures can help reduce the throbbing, numbness, and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Contact Florida Pain Relief Centers for more information about managing this neuropathic pain condition, or schedule a consultation with one of our onsite pain management specialists today.