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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (cont.)

What Happens

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually develop gradually. Symptoms often improve if you stop or change an activity that is helping to cause the condition.

Most mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome get better with treatment. Usually there is no permanent damage to the median nerve. Your symptoms may improve by themselves when:

  • Fluid buildup decreases, such as after pregnancy.
  • You change or stop the activity that has caused your carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Other health problems that cause or contribute to your carpal tunnel symptoms improve.

Long-term carpal tunnel syndrome can cause:

  • A loss of feeling and coordination in the fingers and hand. The thumb muscles can become weak and waste away (atrophy).This can make it hard to grip or hold objects.
  • Permanent damage to the median nerve. You may have trouble using the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of absence from work.

What Increases Your Risk

Things that put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Health problems or illnesses that can cause arm pain or swelling in the joints and soft tissues in the arm, or reduce the blood flow to the hands. These include obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, hypothyroidism, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Being female. Women between the ages of 40 and 60 have the highest risk. Pregnant women near the end of their pregnancies often have short-term symptoms. Women taking birth control pills, going through menopause, or taking estrogen are also thought to be at risk.
  • Hand and wrist movements and activities that require repeated motions, especially in awkward positions.
  • Smoking. It may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome by affecting the blood flow to the median nerve.
  • Broken wrist bones, dislocated bones, new bone growth from healing bones, or bone spurs. These can take up space in the carpal tunnel and put more pressure on the median nerve.
  • Tumors and other growths (such as ganglions). These uncommon causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are usually benign.
  • Normal wear and tear of the tissues in the hand and wrist caused by aging.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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