As we turn our attention to the modern world, we will see how it has changed everything about us, including our health and disease patterns. Since antibiotics were invented, most of us do not die from infectious diseases anymore. But new conditions arise or gain more popularity, such as diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome. Diabetes is a metabolic disease caused by today’s pattern of eating and available foods. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an entrapment neuropathy commonly triggered by the misuse of electronic devices and repetitive movements in modern jobs.
This article will talk about carpal tunnel syndrome and give you a complete understanding of what it is about.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
A syndrome is a set of signs and symptoms that show up in patients with similar characteristics and a common trigger. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a set of signs and symptoms that show up in patients with entrapment neuropathy of the median nerve.
The median nerve runs through the wrists and into your hands. It is responsible for movement and sensory impulses sent to the brain. On its way into your hands, it goes through a structure called a carpal tunnel accompanied by different tendons. This is a very tight space, but it usually has enough room for them. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when this structure becomes too tight. It reduces its size for different causes, and the nerve starts suffering compression.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve as it goes through the carpal tunnel. As such, this syndrome has the usual signs and symptoms of nerve pinching, such as numbness and tingling. But much more happens in carpal tunnel syndrome that we don’t know about.
The disease goes beyond compression because the affected nerve is slowly damaged as the condition is sustained. It starts losing its myelin sheath, which works like the isolation sheath around cables. With a weakened myelin sheath, the nerve impulse can’t travel through the nerve as rapidly and effectively.
If the disease continues, it causes axonal degeneration. The long string of nerve cells that conducts the nerve impulses start to break down. As it happens, motor and sensory nerve fibers are affected. First, we start having sensory failure and sensory abnormalities. Then, we begin experiencing motor problems when trying to use our hands.
Each patient is different, and the disease develops differently in each one of them. However, in most people, there’s very high pressure in the carpal tunnel obstructing other structures. It is not only the median nerve that is involved. The venous outflow may also become damaged, causing liquid retention and edema in the hands. The nerves also receive insufficient blood flow and start undergoing ischemia.
But what triggers all of these changes? The exact cause is not entirely understood, and it appears to be a multifactorial disease. There are different risk factors, including genetic predisposition, medical risk factors, social and working situations that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome development.