Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel – Can It Cause Permanent Damage?

Carpal tunnel is something that more people are coping with, especially as technological devices become more and more popular. Because of this, it’s important that we understand the potential for permanent damage that often comes with carpal tunnel syndrome, and we also need to ensure that we take care of it before it becomes an even bigger problem for us in the future.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at carpal tunnel syndrome, its effects on the nerves and the body, and how it could, potentially, cause permanent damage to those who don’t get the appropriate treatment for it within a reasonable amount of time.

can carpal tunnel cause permanent nerve damage

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Before we can get a good understanding of how this disorder can end up causing permanent damage to the body, it’s important to have an understanding of what carpal tunnel syndrome is in the first place. The good news is, this disorder is actually incredibly common, so the diagnosis and the frustration that is often associated with the disorder has become a lot less in recent years.

According to many professionals, carpal tunnel syndrome is actually the most common of all of the nerve disorders that are out there. The name of the disorder comes from the area in which the disorder comes from – which is called the “carpal tunnel” This area of your arm is located around your wrist, near the palm of your hand. There are three parts to the carpal tunnel, and the gap in there is formed by eight different little bones. The inside of the gap is filled with tissues and ligaments, and the part we need to know about, the median nerve, is also located in this area.

What happens is, when the median nerve gets too much pressure on it for too long of a time, then it starts to reduce the amount of feeling that goes to your hand. The median nerve connects to each of your fingers, and so, the result of the extended pressure is numbness in your hand – sometimes, if it’s bad enough, you can feel numbness all the way to your elbow. With carpal tunnel syndrome, this happens on a regular basis and it starts to cause pain and lack of functioning in the entire arm that is affected by the pain and “swollen” sensation that you may feel.

Why Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Even Happen?

There are lots of theories for this. Obviously, we understand that the nerves in our wrists are getting pinched, which is why our hands or fingers are falling asleep. But why does it seem to happen so often? Some of the most common causes are related to either 1) The overuse of electronic devices and/or computers or 2) weight issues.

With electronic devices, especially if you’re using a keyboard, your wrists are in a certain position for an extended period of time, which causes the nerve to become weak and feel pinched. If you’re leaning on your wrists, you’re causing this to be even more of an issue, this resulting in an inability to function, numbed parts of the arm(s) in question, and a variety of other problems that are linked with carpal tunnel.

The weight issue does something similar, but instead of the repeated motion being the core of the pain that you’re feeling, it’s about the amount of pressure that your weight is putting on your wrists. Our wrists are not meant to carry that extra weight, and therefore, the pressure gets bad and that’s what starts to cause the odd feelings in your fingers, wrists, hands, and arms.

That’s why you will sometimes feel the numbness when you wake up in the morning. Pregnancy can also cause a temporary stint of carpal tunnel syndrome; you’re advised to keep an eye on it after your pregnancy has ended so that you can see whether or not it’s going to stick around for the long term.

All that being said, it could also be because of other nerve disorders. Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia and other pain disorders end up having to fight off the pain that often comes as a result of carpal tunnel as well. If you are struggling with a disorder that causes your body to swell in certain areas, then it could also cause your wrists to swell, which increases the amount of pressure that is on your wrists, which means that you are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome as well.

Carpal tunnel used to be more common in middle aged adults (those over the age of 40), and it was more common in women than men. Nowadays, especially in relation to the use of technology by those who are under the age of 40, it’s become more common in every age group and population of persons, no matter what their background may be.

Long Term Effects and the Potential of Permanent Damage

The question is, of course, can it cause permanent damage if you don’t treat it? The answer to this question is absolutely yes, and as with any disorder, what the results of that will be will depend on a variety of factors, including the initial cause for your carpal tunnel in the first place. Let’s take a quick look at some of the permanent damage that, if left untreated, could end up happening as a result of your carpal tunnel syndrome.

– The hand may become a lot weaker, because the lack of feeling in your hand will make it more difficult for you to be able to grip items, and you may be less likely to use your hand if it’s numb as well.

– Loss of sensation is a very common issue that goes along with untreated carpal tunnel syndrome. You may lose the feeling in your fingertips, or you may even notice that there are other areas of your arm that are without any feeling as a result of the untreated carpal tunnel syndrome.

– The palm’s base and the thumb can both lose muscle mass because of the pressure that is exuded on this area of the body. The muscles, in short, start to deteriorate, and therefore will be unable to be used. This only happens in the most severe of cases, but it’s important that you are aware that this is a possibility that may occur.

  • Permanent nerve damage, especially in the wrist and upper arm, is relatively common in untreated cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. Nerve damage may not always include a loss of sensation, but it’s one of the many things that may help you to notice that not everything is well when it comes to what is going on with that area of your arm.

Can You Prevent Long Term Damage from Carpal Tunnel?

As you may expect, the answer to this question is also “Yes.” There are so many things that can be done for those with carpal tunnel syndrome now. So, unless you completely ignore the fact that you are struggling with the disorder, you’re going to be able to fend off the permanent damage that can come with it. Here are some of the most common types of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Medications that help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Braces that help to hold your wrists in a proper position, thus preventing further pinching of the median nerve and other nerves in your wrists.
  • Use electronics less often or, if you must use them on a regular basis, consider getting products that are friendlier to your wrists, hands, and arms.
  • In the worst cases of carpal tunnel, you may be in need of surgery so that you can get the hand, wrist, and arm back to where they need to be in terms of function and flexibility. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s definitely an option for those who are dealing with the worst cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and its effects.

So, as you can see, carpal tunnel syndrome is something that needs to be taken care of in an efficient manner. Luckily, there are a number of different treatment options that are out there that can help you deal with your carpal tunnel in such a way that you won’t end up with the permanent damage that we’ve been talking about here.

Your doctor can give you a lot of recommendations as to how you can move forward with your therapy, and they can the advice that you need in order to ensure that your carpal tunnel is under control for the longest period of time.

Even though we’ve given suggestions for your diagnosis and treatment in this article, you always want to remember that your best option is with your doctor and what they recommend – then, you can feel confident that you are taking care of your body in the best way that you can, no matter what the circumstances surrounding your carpal tunnel may be.

Further reading:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

https://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Carpal_Tunnel_Syndrome/

Carpal Tunnel: http://www.healthline.com/health/carpal-tunnel-syndrome

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