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CTS Nightmares Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Numbness, pain, and burning sensation at night in the fingers and thumb, crawling up your wrist like molten lava, your whole arm throbbing and aching. Chances are, you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition often misdiagnosed and mistreated.

“CTS is curable,” states Dr. Sándor Ilniczky, neurologist at Dr. Rose Private Hospital. “The problem is that many patients go undiagnosed and suffer unnecessarily for years, before a specialist recommends the right therapy.”

The causes are many and various: it could be anything from considerable weight gain, pregnancy, thyroid hypo-function, a broken wrist, arthritis, oedema, or diabetes. Middle-aged and elderly women have the highest risk, although CTS can occur at any age. Work-related strain on the wrists and fingers, flexing the hands regularly backwards for a prolonged period, are paving the way for CTS. Certain sports, such as cycling, weight lifting and pumping iron also pose higher risk. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the aftermath of tendon inflammation.

Symptoms are most painful at night, impeding sleep. The patient feels less pain dur-ing the day, although fingers can be swollen, fingertips numb. Applying a flexible wrist bandage improves the problem almost immediately. “For temporary relief, ster-oid injections are a good choice. Should the condition persist, the hands become weaker, and muscle atrophy aggravate, surgical operation is the only solution,” ex-plains Dr. Ilniczky. “An incision on the problematic tendon relieves the nerve that causes the debilitating pain.”

CTS is frequently misdiagnosed: the recurring numbness is put down to poor circulation in the arms or brain, or else attributed to the calcification of neck vertebrae or disc hernia. Carpal tunnel syndrome often affects the elbows and shoulders, a good enough reason why symptoms are mistaken for different forms of rheumatism. Consulting a specialist about regularly recurring physical pain certainly pays off, because carefully diagnosing the symptoms and running a thorough neurological examination can pinpoint the actual condition. Measuring the transmitting capacity of neurones, for example, not only gives a sure shot diagnosis, but exactly grades the extent of neurological damage. High resolution ultrasound imaging devices reveal the structure and thickness of the nerves, giving the neurologist important guidelines before the surgery.

Good to know
The fine motion of fingers is coordinated by an intricate web of muscles, tendons and delicate nerves, most of which run from the lower arm to the hand through a narrow anatomical region packed with bones and tendons – the carpal tunnel. When strained and irritated, tendons get inflamed and swell, exerting pressure on the nerves. Hence the numbness and pain, unfortunately making the patients’ life miserable at night.

Typing on the keyboard and using a mouse – pretty much the only activity that most people call work these days – means that our hands are strained backwards and held in a stiff, unnatural position for a long time. Diagnosis and therapy are highly recommended, because if it goes untreated, CTS can lead to complete atrophy and disfunction.