Questions and Answers
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition involving the hand and wrist with overall prevalence of 3.0-5.8% among women and 0.6-2.1% among men in general population with increased prevalence of 10.8% among active workers and 62% among pregnant women lasting up to 3 years post-partum.
Sign and Symptoms:CTS results in pain and numbness along the median distribution (thumb, index finger, long finger, and half of ring finger) as well as weakness of handgrip. This pain typically resembles the loss of circulation to the hand and is commonly relieved by shaking or opening and closing of the fingers and hand. Patients typically experience loss of manual dexterity resulting in dropping objects.
Causes:CTS is a disease caused by entrapment and compression of median nerve at the wrist. Repetitive manual work tasks involving flexion and extension at the wrist, which causes compression of, median nerve has been shown to damage the median nerve and cause CTS. Aside from well demonstrated excessive flexion and extension of the wrist during work as a cause of CTS, observation of the prevalence of night symptoms, which is called nocturnal paresthesia along the median nerve, has led to the understanding that patients who keep their wrist in a prolonged flexed or extended posture (extreme wrist positions) by compression of the median nerve in carpal tunnel acquire symptoms and subsequently diagnosis of CTS.
Treatment:Non-surgical management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome includes rest, NSAIDs, and use of wrist splints. Patients who are refractory to conservative measures are good candidates for decompression of the median nerve at the wrist, which is an outpatient procedure. Symptoms of CTS may be avoidable if good ergonomic practices are followed, both during sleep and while at work. The current FDA approved devices on the market immobilize the wrist which while are useful at nights and during sleep (and therefore prescribed for night use) lack the flexibility and necessary feedback mechanism for good maintaining good ergonomics at work.
What is good posture?Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Proper posture:
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
- Prevents strain or overuse problems.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
- Contributes to a good appearance.