The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of bones and ligaments. If inflammation occurs in this area, it can lead to a potentially debilitating condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The median nerve, which controls sensation and movement in most of your fingers, runs through the carpal tunnel into your hand. Inflammation in the wrist can compress this nerve and lead to pain, numbness and a weakened grip. Common causes of inflammation in the wrist include diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disorders.
In addition, repeatedly straining your wrist can lead to inflammation. This includes any ongoing movement that overextends the wrist, prolonged exposure to vibrating tools and a lack of wrist support when using a keyboard or mouse.
To prevent or minimize the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, avoid activities that overextend your wrist as much as possible. If you frequently use a computer, consider an ergonomic wrist rest. When engaging in an activity that requires repetitive wrist motion, such as playing the piano, be sure to take frequent breaks.
Effective options for treating carpal tunnel syndrome include taking anti-inflammatory drugs, icing your wrist and wearing wrist splints. A chiropractor, physiotherapist or occupational therapist can also suggest exercises and provide manual therapy to relieve pressure in the carpal tunnel. In severe cases, carpal tunnel release surgery may be necessary.
If you experience symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, be sure to speak with a health-care professional as soon as possible.