A common condition, carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by aching, numbness or tingling in the thumb, fingers and sometimes the hand.
While it can develop at any age, it is most common among people in their 40s and 50s. Carpal tunnel syndrome is triggered by repetitive activities, often by something you do repeatedly at work, or by sports. Golfers, tennis players, secretaries, and those who work with power tools, all can develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
The aching and tingling occur when the nerves and tendons that we use to bend the fingers and wrist are squeezed as they run through the narrow opening at the wrist. This is usually caused by swelling in this area, which reduces the space and impinges on the median nerve.
Other factors that can cause this to occur include previous sprains of breaks to the wrist, and fluid retention, which creates pressure in the tunnel. Fluid retention can be due to pregnancy, kidney failure, or an under-active thyroid.
The goal of any treatment is to reduce the pressure on the median nerve. Stretching can thus help to relieve symptoms and keep the area mobile, while other treatments include wrist splints, worn at night, or both day and night, and the use of ice packs.