Summary: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is widely known, but is Carpal Tunnel really as bad as they say? Or are the symptoms somewhat exaggerated. The answer is that, as usual, it very much depends on the patient. For some Carpal Tunnel can be easily dealt with by stretching and taking breaks. But other patients grapple with extreme pain and discomfort. For those patients, more dramatic treatment might be necessary.
Is Carpal Tunnel Really as Bad as They Say?
Nearly everyone’s heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, especially if you grew up during a certain age. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was on every television news magazine program at least once, almost as if it was some kind of mystery ailment. And, I suppose, the mystery was definitely real. But is Carpal Tunnel really as bad as they say?
Did it deserve all of that media attention? In a way, almost certainly. We’re used to thinking about Carpal Tunnel as a kind of nuisance. But this syndrome can cause severe, intense, and debilitating pain.
In other words, Carpal Tunnel can be as bad as they say on the news. But it can also be significantly less severe. Or, maybe a better way to say it is that Carpal Tunnel can vary widely from patient to patient and still be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. That’s why today we’re going to look at some of the symptoms and how they might vary. We’ll also look into what actually causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, because that might have something to do with how to prevent it in the future. That said, if you’re currently suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you should seek treatment from your doctor (if you haven’t already). This article is meant mostly for entertainment purposes, not to serve as any kind of diagnosis.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
So, the first question we should answer is what, exactly, is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Well, let’s start by talking about your hands. Your hands a complicated assemblage of simple machines: levers and pulleys and all that good stuff. Most of the work for these machines is performed by tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Your nerves are in there, too, and they’re what let you feel everything.
All of this equipment has to travel through your wrist to get to your hand. Therefore, your wrist has several “tunnels” flowing through it, almost like ductwork through your house. The Carpal Tunnel is one such tunnel, and it protects the median nerve and flexor tendon.
But there’s only so much room in that little tunnel. So when either the ligament or the tendon becomes inflamed (or when there’s a fair amount of inflammation anyway), you see pressure exerted on the tendon and nerves. This pressure generally manifests as the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Numbness of tingling in the first two fingers or thumb
- Pain or tightness in the hand
- Pain or tightness in the wrist
The pain and discomfort can range from slightly obnoxious to completely debilitating, depending on how inflamed the tissue in your wrist seem to be.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
So what actually causes the nerves or tendons to become inflamed and start these issues in the first place? It’s actually somewhat difficult to say with much scientific accuracy. For a long time, the cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was assumed to be repetitive motion. That’s still the assumption we mostly operate under, but there’s been difficulty in proving that both conclusively and scientifically.
That said, it does seem to be the case that repetitive motion can certainly make Carpal Tunnel Syndrome worse. That’s why many patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can often find those activities to be excruciating.
The problem is that repetitive motions are an important part of our daily lives. It’s difficult to find an occupation of some kind that doesn’t involve some kind of typing or pushing buttons. That’s just the modern world. People who suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can find some relief, usually in the form of treatment from a doctor. In the most severe cases, surgery for Carpal Tunnel might be necessary.
Return to Normal Life
The goal of any Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatment is to return the patient to an essentially normal life–or at least one in which they can do normal daily activities without intense pain, tingling, and discomfort. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has a way of making even simple tasks quite arduous (think about writing an email when your fingers are numb or your wrist is in intense pain).
So, is Carpal Tunnel really as bad as they say? Not in every case, certainly. But it’s going to be bad enough for many patients that treatment is required. And in our opinion, that’s certainly bad enough.
- Nordqvist, Christian. “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 22 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/184337.php.
- “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 Mar. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355603.
- “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/pain-management/carpal-tunnel/carpal-tunnel-syndrome#1.
About the Author: Nick Engebretson is a marketer who has been writing about plastic and cosmetic surgery for nearly twenty years.