Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Back to the Basics

Getting a handle on CTS ...

WHAT EXACTLY IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?

* Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve specifically at the area of the wrist.
* The floor of the carpal tunnel is made of eight small wrist bones stacked in two rows of four (the carpus) forming a semi-circle. The roof of the tunnel is a thick ligament that attaches from one end of the semi-circle to the other (the transverse carpal ligament).
* Nine tendons pass through this tunnel that measures about the width of the index finger. The tendons are the rope-like portion of the muscle that attaches the muscle to the bone. The majority of the muscles that move the wrist and the fingers are the forearm muscles that originate at the inside edge of the elbow and end at the wrist or in the fingers..

o Four of the nine tendons passing through the carpal tunnel bend the tips of the fingers.
o Another four of the nine tendons bend the middle joints of the finger.
o The ninth tendon bends the thumb tip.

* The median nerve also passes through this tunnel. The nerves are the long power cords that run from the spine all the way to the fingers and toes. The median nerve is responsible for providing power to the muscles at the base of the thumb (the thenar muscles) and for sensation in the thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring fingers.
* If there is any swelling of the tendons or in the tendon sheath, or if there is thickening of the ligament, the nerve (which is the softest structure in the tunnel) gets "pinched" or compressed. With enough compression, carpal tunnel symptoms occur. If the compression is severe or occurs over a long-period of time, the nerve may actually change shape and flatten causing some permanent damage."    (Continued via BellaOnline)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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