What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

The word Carpus is derived from the Greek word "karpos" which means "wrist." The wrist is surrounded by bands of fibrous tissue that help support the joint. The small space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand. Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Irritation of the median nerve can cause tingling and numbness of the index finger, thumb and the middle fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is reportedly responsible for up to 40 percent of worker's compensation claims in the early 1990s (prior to awareness of the causes). Almost half of all carpal tunnel syndrome cases last longer than 30 days.

What is tarsal tunnel syndrome?

The anatomy of the wrist and hand is somewhat similar to the ankle and foot. Tarsal is from the Latin word "tarsus" which means ankle. If the sensory nerve that passes through the tarsal tunnel is irritated by pressure in the tunnel, numbness and tingling of the foot and toes can be felt. This condition is referred to as "tarsal tunnel syndrome." Tarsal tunnel syndrome is less common than carpal tunnel syndrome but it is treated similarly.

What conditions and diseases cause carpal tunnel syndrome?

For most patients, the cause of their carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown. Any physical condition that puts pressure on the median nerve at the wrist can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Common conditions that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, obesity, hypothyroidism, trauma, diabetes, and arthritis. Carpal tunnel can be caused by tendon inflammation resulting from repetitive work including:

  • Repetitive typing
  • Excessive PC mouse operation
  • Tennis
  • Using hand with power tool

Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive operations is sometimes called a repetitive stress injury. Some rare diseases can cause deposition of abnormal substances in and around the carpal tunnel, leading to nerve irritation. These diseases include sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, multiple myeloma and leukemia.

Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

Cold laser treatment can be very effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. A Low Level Laser is use, in cold laser treatment, to delivers energy deep into the tissue of the wrist and forearm to stimulate cell growth and reduce the swelling that is typical of carpal tunnel syndrome. Because the affected area may be quite large, a larger size probe is recommended to ensure that the laser energy is getting to worst areas.

Other treatments include physical therapy exercises, acupuncture, steroid injections, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Cold laser treatments may be used in conjunction with all these treatments.

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