Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common occupational diseases where a nerve is squeezed when it passes through the wrist. This nerve controls muscles that move the thumb and fingers. The squeezed nerve causes pain, numbness and tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.
Symptoms tend to be worse at night and may disturb sleep. They tend to affect the thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger.
What are the main symptoms of Carpel tunnel syndrome?
• Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
• Dull ache in the hand or arm
• Becoming much less sensitive to touch (hypoaesthesia)
• Weakness and wasting (atrophy) of the muscles in the thumb
• Difficulty grasping small items.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
This condition occurs due to the swelling of the nerve (median nerve) which is passing under a narrow passage in front of wrist. This passage is called a Carpel Tunnel. The median nerve passes through this passage under the bridge. Due to excessive repetitive movement of the hand or under emotional stress, inflammation and swelling takes place in covering layer of the tendons and the soft tissues under this bridge. So the passage becomes narrower. This causes pressure on the median nerve and the minute branches of arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the nerve itself. The symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and weakness are all nothing but the cry of the sensory and motor nerve for more oxygen and freedom from entrapment.
Who is more prone to Carpel tunnel syndrome?
• People with a family history of CTS
• Pregnancy – up to about 50% of pregnant women develop CTS
• Injuries to the wrist
• Other health conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
• Strenuous, repetitive work with the hand like tailoring, typing and handling vibrating tools for long.
How does stress aggravate this entrapment?
Emotional or psychological stress contributes to the aggravation of carpel tunnel syndrome in two ways.
1. During emotional stress there is constant state of partial contraction of muscles all over body in general. Along with that, muscles of the part which is under constant usage and in state of contraction, leads to further reduction in local blood flow. This affects the median nerve and area around it in the wrist tunnel.
2. Problems like wrist injury cause inflammatory process. This inflammation process can be disturbed and exaggerated by chemical imbalances that occur in the body during stress.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by: examining your wrist – your thumb, index and middle finger which may be insensitive to a gentle touch or pin prick or the base of your thumb may show signs of muscle wasting which can be further investigated by nerve conduction study.
What treatment does modern medicine offer for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Non-surgical treatments, such as wrist splints and corticosteroid injections, are used to treat mild or moderate symptoms.
In more severe cases of CTS, surgery is usually required to reduce the pressure on the median nerve. Surgery relieves the symptoms of CTS instantly, but it can take a while to recover. Although not very common, but chances of reoccurrence of symptoms are there. Also the scar formed from surgery may be painful.
What is the yoga way for handling Carpel tunnel syndrome?
Yoga is a good natural way to tackle the problem. The swelling and pain can be reduced through yogic way.
The entrapment can be reduced through local deep rest and relaxation to the affected wrist area by applying the techniques of integrated approach of yoga therapy. The local practice for fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders, practiced in slow easy effortless way with deep internal awareness and deep breathing. Each set of movement has to be followed by deep relaxation to the part in sitting or lying position.
Pranayama with emphasis on Nadisuddhi practiced 4 times a day. By chanting “U- Kara” feel the deep internal massage which is very effective tool to reduce the swelling and tightness under the carpel tunnel. Emotional management and stress reduction through yogic counselling plays a significant role.
The asanas to be avoided include all those practices that may increase pain due to over stretching of the wrist or weight bearing on the hands. Hence avoid Suryanamaskar, Bhujangasana, Sarvangasana & halasana or Sirsana.
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