Tag Archives: Rheumatoid Arthritis

causes of carpal tunnel

Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

like what you see? share...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin

Carpal Tunnel happens when the tendons become swollen (tenosynovitis) or if the tunnel size itself decreases because of injury – causing compression to the median nerve.  When compression occurs, a person can experience numbness, tingling, or a dull sensation of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. Symptoms may include pain during pinching and gripping, or a feeling of clumsiness and the inability to hold things. The best way to avoid carpal wrist pain, is to understand the main causes of carpal tunnel and use that information at work and at home.

WHAT IS THE CARPAL TUNNEL?
The carpal tunnel is a small space at the wrist in which the median nerve and nine tendons pass through. The median nerve travels on top of the tendons through the tunnel. The tunnel itself is made up of your wrist bones and along the top of the tunnel is a thick fibrous ligament called the transverse carpal ligament.

COMMON CAUSES OF CARPAL TUNNEL
Carpal Tunnel is typically not related to a specific injury. Some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Genetic Preposition – Many cases can be a result of physical characteristics of carpal tunnel or medical conditions associated with CTS, which also run in the family.

Repetitive Movements – Certain types of work, leisure and sports activities require use of the hand and wrist repetitively. Occupations such as manufacturing/assembly line workers, grocery checkers, musicians, carpenters and many others require the same movements. Common hobbies such as golfing, knitting and gardening also require repeated movements that cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

Injury or Trauma – Sprain or fracture of the wrist can cause swelling and pressure to the median nerve.

Pregnancy & Menopause – Hormonal fluctuation in women play a role in CTS. Such fluctuation may cause fluid retention and other changes that cause swelling in the body. Fluid retention frequently occurs during the last trimester of a pregnancy and is the reason for CTS.

Medical Conditions – Diabetes, hypothyroidism, lupus, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis.

ACTIVITIES TO AVOID TO MINIMIZE SYMPTOMS

  • Avoid keeping your wrists bent in either direction. The best position for the wrist is neutral (straight)
  • Avoid rapid repetitive forceful or prolonged hand or arm use such as seen with factory work or data entry.
  • Avoid tight gripping and pinching
  • Avoid pressure to the palm or wrist
  • Avoid extreme cold or vibration.
cracking knuckles

True or False: Cracking Your Knuckles Can Lead to Arthritis

like what you see? share...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin

Cracking Knuckles Arthritis_FBsize

Crack. Pop. Click. These sounds jump from the joints of the many children and adults who are in the habit of cracking their knuckles.

If you cracked your knuckles as a child, you may have been warned that it could cause you to develop arthritis later in life. Is this true? Probably not, according to a handful of studies on the subject. While cracking your knuckles may not cause arthritis, some researchers believe that habitual cracking could create some problems later on. Not to mention that the incessant pops and clicks are likely to be a major annoyance to those around you.

Evidence for the Health Claim
Your knuckles are the joints in your fingers and toes. They are located where two bones meet, and they are bathed in a liquid called synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. Sometimes a bubble of gas develops in the synovial fluid, and when the joint is manipulated in certain ways (eg, when a person is bending or compressing his or her hand), the bubble can burst, making an audible popping or cracking sound.

Arthritis is an extremely common problem for older adults, with the majority of people over age 65 having signs of the condition. There are two major forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis results from inflammation of the joints, and can cause pain, redness, swelling, and eventually deformity and loss of function. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, results from wear and tear on the joints over time, which is why it tends to affect older adults.

While there is no reason to believe that knuckle cracking would lead to rheumatoid arthritis, it makes sense that habitual trauma to a joint might eventually cause tissues to break down and wear away leading to osteoarthritis. In fact, some researchers have reported cases of people who habitually cracked their knuckles and went on to develop osteoarthritis or other joint problems. For example, in a case report published in the British Medical Journal, researchers report that a man who habitually cracked and popped many of his joints had damage in his right hand indicative of arthritis.

Another study published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers simulated the act of cracking knuckles and found that the energy used to crack your knuckles is enough to damage the cartilage in your joints.

Do these reports mean knuckle cracking can lead to arthritis? Or are they just chance findings, since so many people develop osteoarthritis whether they crack their knuckles or not?

Evidence Against the Health Claim
While individual reports may cite cases in which voracious knuckle crackers develop arthritis, other studies tell a different story.

In 1975, Dr. Robert L. Swezey and Stuart E. Swezey conducted a study of 28 nursing home residents who could recall whether or not they had cracked their knuckles earlier in life. After performing x-rays on the participants’ hands, the researchers concluded that there was no link between habitual knuckle cracking and arthritis.

Another study, published in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease, looked at a group of 300 habitual knuckle crackers. The researchers found that the participants who cracked their knuckles regularly did not experience more cases of osteoarthritis. Knuckle crackers, however, were more likely to have hand swelling and reduced grip strength in their hands. Whether the knuckle cracking caused the swelling and loss of hand function or those with hand problems were just more likely to crack their knuckles, the researchers could not say.

Researchers also compared a group of people with osteoarthritis in the hand with those who did not have the condition. The two groups were asked whether they cracked their knuckles and, if so, the duration and the frequency of this behavior. When the researchers analyzed the findings, they found no correlation between knuckle cracking and the development of osteoarthritis.

knuckles

Conclusion
Some people who crack their knuckles do it out of habit or boredom. Many others say it helps relieve joint pain and tension, and allows for greater range of motion in their joints. If you are in the habit of cracking your knuckles, the evidence available today suggests that it will not cause you to develop arthritis. While some insatiable knuckle crackers may go onto to develop problems down the road, the occasional painless cracking is probably harmless.

Keep in mind, though, that while cracking your knuckles seems like nothing more than an innocent, mindless habit, for the person sitting next to you, it may be just as irritating as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.

by Krisha McCoy, MS

More PTandMe articles about arthritis can be found here:

   

 

REFERENCES:

Brodeus R. The audible release associated with joint manipulation.J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995;18:155-164.

Castellanos J, Axelrod D. Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function.Ann Rheum Dis. 1990;49:308-309.

Protapapas MG, Cymet TC. Joint cracking and popping: understanding noises that accompany articular release.J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2002;102:306.

Swezey RL, Swezey SE. The consequences of habitual knuckle cracking.West J Med. 1975;122:377-379. Available at: http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1129752&blobtype=pdf. Accessed July 11, 2006

Watson P, Hamilton A, Mollan R. Habitual joint cracking and radiological damage.Br Med J. 1989;299:1566.

Watson P Kernohan WG, Mollan RA. A study of the cracking sounds from the metacarpophalangeal joint.Proc Inst Mech Eng. 1989;203:109-118.

3/17/2011 DynaMed’s Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed’s Systematic Literature Surveillance: Deweber K, Olszewski M, Ortolano R. Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis.J Am Board Fam Med.2011;24(2):169-174.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.