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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Every Web user who bangs away on the keyboard dreads it: the painful tingling in the wrists that can signal carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). But before jumping to any conclusions about what ails you, see your doctor: the cause may not be repetitive typing after all, a new study suggests.

New research shows that of almost 300 people who had been diagnosed with work-related carpal tunnel syndrome, one-third had other conditions such as obesity, thyroid problems or diabetes that could have caused their arm and wrist pain. And two-thirds of the cases would have been missed by a doctor who used the typical patient history to diagnose them. Systemic diseases have also been determined to cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Menopause, osteoarthritis, or late trimester pregnancy can all be contributing factors.

Every day, assembly line workers, keyboard operators, grocery store clerks, and many others, receive micro-traumas to their hands and wrists. Vibration and repetitive motions, when combined with spinal problems and other joint dysfunction, can result in a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome usually begins as a feeling of pins and needles on the palm side of the hand. Soon, the affected area may become numb; tingling, burning and aching can develop and spread to the forearm or shoulder. The hand may begin to feel swollen, even though it is not. The phantom pain can be so intense that it can awaken one at night.

Problems in the neck and forearm can cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or a loss of strength in the hands by compression of a nerve.
The major nerve controlling the thumb, index, and parts of the middle and ring finger is called the median nerve. From the tip of your fingers, it travels through the bones in your wrist, past your elbow, up your arm, through your shoulder and neck, and finally to your spinal cord. Problems can develop in one or more of these areas.

The carpal "tunnel" is formed by bones in the wrist. The median nerve, tendons, and blood vessels pass through this opening. If one or more of the bones forming this tunnel should "collapse," inflammation, nerve pressure, and painful symptoms can result.

The median nerve connects to the spinal cord through openings between several bones in the lower neck. When these spinal bones lose their normal motion or position, they can cause problems in the fingers and wrist.

Specific care of the wrist, forearm, and neck can relieve pressure on the median nerve, reducing symptoms in the affected area. And unlike surgery, which leaves permanent changes in the wrist, our care permits a person to heal naturally.

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