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Carpal Tunnel

One particular wrist injury which has become increasingly important to medical specialists lately in relation to cumulative trauma is known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This article will attempt to explain the anatomy of the carpal tunnel and why it in often implicated in hand and wrist dysfunctions.

The carpal tunnel formed by the transverse carpal ligament and the bones that make up the wrist (the word carpal means wrist in Greek). The wrist is made up of eight small bones which are aligned in two rows of four bones each. Small ligaments criss-cross these bones to provide stability. This configuration allows for mobility in the joint and a wide variation of hand positions. To a great extent, this allows the hand to be placed in a literally limitless number of positions during functional activities.

Though this tunnel formed by the carpal ligament and carpal bones run the flexor tendons which pull the fingers down such as when you make a fist. Ths median nerve provides innervation to the muscles of the thumb and provides sensation to the thumb, index and middle fingers and to part of the ring finger.

Any situation or condition which decreases the space within the carpal tunnel can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Conditions include fractures or dislocations of the wrist, bone changes secondary to arthritis, inflammation of the flexor tendons of the hand and a thickening of the transverse carpal ligament itself. A narrowing of the carpal tunnel, if great enough, may cause compression of the median nerve which often leads to pain and numbness in the hand particularly at night. Victims of carpal tunnel syndrome may also begin to notice weakness of the thumb muscles and an inability to grasp objects.

When these symptoms become severe, it is recommended that you consult your physician. If caught in its early stage, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, rest from the repetitive activities which apply stress to the hand and wrist, and support from a splint. For those patients with severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery may be required in which the carpal ligament is divided in two in order to reverse the narrowing of the carpal tunnel. With this release of the carpal tunnel ligament, the condition should be resolved and all symptoms disappear. Unfortunately, many patients do not realize the seriousness of their wrist pain and wait several months before seeking medical care. At this time, damage to the nerves in the area can be quite extensive and sometimes permanent.

If you have a job or hobby that requires repetitive motions of the hand or wrist, you are at a greater risk to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. If you notice any of the common symptoms associated with this serious condition (numbness, tingling or pain in the hand or wrist and/or a weakening of your grip), you should see your physician as soon as possible to evaluate and treat the condition before any permanent damage occurs.

Therapy Services Associates
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Two Offices
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2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
FAX (575) 392-3835

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Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
FAX (575) 396-7193

We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.