On any given day, nurses encounter patients suffering from various illnesses and health conditions, from viral diseases to chronic ailments. As a nurse, you are the main healthcare professional responsible for handling most patient care tasks. Developing a good understanding of these health issues is critical in your role.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common concern you might face while on the job. A condition that can cause tingling and numbness in hands and fingers, CTS can negatively impact the quality of life of a person suffering from it
Today’s post will help you better understand carpal tunnel syndrome, its symptoms, who is most at risk of developing it, and how to treat and manage the condition.
CTS is pain caused in a part of your hand called the carpal tunnel because of excessive pressure in your wrist and the median nerve. The median nerve is situated in the palm area, called the carpal tunnel. This nerve is responsible for allowing you to feel your index finger, middle finger, thumb, and a portion of your ring finger. Carpal tunnel can happen in one or both hands, characterized by a numbness and tingling feeling near your thumb on the side of your affected hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can become painful from the inflammation and swelling that it causes. This swelling occurs primarily due to underlying conditions that can also obstruct blood flow. Several underlying health conditions are linked with patients developing carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Major trauma or fractures in the wrist
- Fluid retention caused by menopause and pregnancy
- Thyroid issues
Besides underlying conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome can worsen if the person suffering from it overextends their wrist frequently. Excessive exposure to vibrations caused by power tools, your wrist position while using a keyboard and mouse, or repetitive movements that overextend the wrist can worsen the condition and make it more painful.
CTS occurs from several issues that cause median nerve compression. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- A painful sensation that moves up your arm
- A sensation of tingling, numbness, and pain in the first three fingers and the thumb
- Experiencing weakness in hand muscles
- Wrist pain that can disrupt sleep at night
Statistically speaking, women have a greater chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. They are three times as likely to develop it as men. People are typically diagnosed with this condition between the ages of 30 and 60. While it can happen to anybody, certain risk factors can increase the chances of an individual developing CTS, including hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes. Beyond underlying health issues, a few lifestyle factors like smoking and high sodium consumption can also increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
People in certain professions face conditions that increase their risks of carpal tunnel syndrome or worsen it if they already have it, including:
- People who work in construction
- Individuals with manufacturing industry jobs
- People working in assembly lines
- Professionals with desk jobs involving excessive keyboard use
CTS is a treatable condition, but the approach to treating it depends highly on the severity of an individual’s symptoms. Effectively treating CTS without the need for surgery involves making lifestyle changes that can mitigate the risks, including:
- Using splints designed to help keep your wrists from overextension
- Medicine to treat inflammation and pain
- Avoiding situations where a person has to overextend their wrists
- Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel
Depending on how severe the case is, it is possible for a patient suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome to require surgery. Surgical intervention only becomes necessary if there is significant damage to the median nerve. The surgical procedure to treat carpal tunnel syndrome involves precisely cutting the tissue in the affected hand’s wrist that crosses the median nerve. Removing it can alleviate the pressure on the nerve.
Prevention is always the best cure for any health condition. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent the development of carpal tunnel syndrome by making a few simple changes to reduce risk factors associated with the condition. Keeping underlying health conditions like arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes in check can significantly reduce the risk of developing this condition. Paying close attention to the wrist and avoiding activities that cause overextended wrists can also reduce the risk. For people working jobs that make the risk factors unavoidable, a change in career or using wrist splints where possible might be a good way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
Beginning early treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome through lifestyle changes and physical therapy can alleviate symptoms and offer a greater chance at long-term improvements. As the primary point of contact for patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and their families, you must take on the responsibility of educating them about the condition, how to manage it, and treat it. Failing to treat and manage carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent damage to the median nerve, causing loss of function in the hand, and leading to disability.
Alongside patient education, your education as a nurse also takes precedence. You need to complete a certain number of credit hours through nursing continuing education courses for your recertification. Choosing the courses relevant to where you want to progress your career can improve your chances of becoming more suited to positively impacting the community while aligning with your goals.
Online nursing CEUs, like those offered at Fast CE For Less at https://fastceforless.com/ce-courses-for-nursing/ are the ideal solution for nurses who struggle to find affordable online nursing CEUs that they can manage with their hectic schedules.