Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Making up a network of 43 pairs of motor and sensory nerves running between the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves can be affected by repetitive actions and overuse. The resulting hand pain can be related to carpal, cubital, radial, or tarsal tunnel syndrome. While each condition affects a different set of muscles and joints, symptoms, and treatments can be similar.
Affecting arms and hands, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by excessive pressure on your wrist extending to the median nerve, a major peripheral nerve in the upper body. Repetitive motions are usually a contributing factor, as may be the case with typing or playing certain sports.
Pain aggravated by pressure on the ulnar nerve, or the so-called “funny bone,” may be cubital tunnel syndrome. Causes of this condition can include a hard blow the arm, repeatedly leaning on your elbows on a hard surface, or excessive bending of your elbow — possibly from a sleeping position or while using a cellphone.
Referring to a set of symptoms affecting the top of the forearm, radial tunnel syndrome is a condition resulting from a pinched radial nerve or the separation or binding of connective tissues. Overuse of the arm or excessive gripping or bending of the wrist can be contributing causes of this condition.
Caused by compression of the tibial nerve, tarsal tunnel Syndrome (posterior tibial neuralgia), is characterized by sharp, shooting pain that can be felt in the lower leg, ankle, or foot. It’s more common in people with flatfeet. Any of these conditions can be affected by an underlying medical condition that results in circulation issues or inflammation, such as diabetes or arthritis.
Symptoms related to carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, or radial tunnel syndrome can start off as mild if the main cause is overuse of muscles. If a sudden trauma is involved, pain may be sudden and sharp. Symptoms of any of these conditions may include:
- Numbness and tingling
- Redness or swelling
- “Pins and needles” sensations
- Muscle weakness
- Dull, aching pain near the affected area
- Pain that’s off and on
Carpal, cubital, radial, and tarsal tunnel syndrome are all conditions that should be treated as early as possible to reduce the risk of permanent nerve damage. If symptoms are mild, treatment often involves physical therapy and the identification of pain triggers. Conservative treatment options, usually recommended for 6-8 months before surgery becomes an option, include:
- Temporary immobilization
- Physical or massage therapy
- Epicondylar injections
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS)
In some cases, no specific source can be found if you have carpal, cubital, radial, or tarsal tunnel syndrome. Such conditions often stem from a variety of underlying issues and preexisting conditions. Preventative measures can include improving flexibility and range of motion with regular exercise, improving posture, and alternating the use of certain muscle groups to avoid repetitive strain injuries.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Allied Pain & Spine Institute today to get the relief you need.