Do you often experience tingling, numbness in the first three fingers of your hand especially during the night? They could be the first symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which is often also associated with reduced sensitivity and weaker grip of the same.
What is meant by carpal tunnel?
The carpus is that part of the skeleton that connects the bones of the forearm with the bones of the hand and is located in the region we commonly call the wrist.
The carpal bones form, with the transverse carpal ligament, a “passage” which is called the carpal tunnel. Through this tunnel pass the median nerve and flexor tendons that allow our fingers and hand to move.
Causes of the carpal tunnel
The cause is to be found in the increase in pressure on the median nerve or its squeezing inside the wrist canal where both the nerve and the nine flexor tendons of the fingers pass, due to inflammation of the sheath that lines the flexor tendons.
Some trauma, such as a wrist fracture or certain pathological conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, obesity, water retention during pregnancy or menopause, kidney failure and hypothyroidism, and even some repetitive manual labor activities could favor the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Women are more at risk than men of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is thought to be due to hormonal factors and the fact that their tunnel may be smaller than that of men.
To make a correct diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor must first perform an accurate physical examination, perform tests and possibly prescribe an X-ray of the hand to rule out the possible presence of osteoarthritis and an ENG / EMG electromyography.
This last test is essential to check the transmission speed of nerve signals (electroneurography) and to exclude any muscle damage (electromyography).
Once the diagnosis has been obtained, conventional therapy usually proceeds with the use of a brace and rest and, only in the most serious cases, requires surgery.
If the disorders are bearable and above all non-disabling, and therefore do not require urgent surgery, osteopathy can be of great help in finding the primary cause of this pain and restoring the correct biomechanics of the wrist, forearm and neck area. dorsal.
Osteopathic treatment can also be combined with treatments with Telea Medical’s Q-Physio instrumentation (with QMR technology) and local cryotherapy, both useful tools for combating muscle inflammation and reducing pressure on the wrist canal. The application of kinesio tape can also help relieve tension.
Exercises for pain relief
Here are 4 useful exercises to be performed every day for both prevention and post surgery.
Standing up, extend your arm and forearm then raise your palm as if to indicate someone to stop. With the other hand, grab your fingers and gradually pull them towards you.
2. Still in an upright position, and remaining with the arm and forearm extended, perform the reverse movement. With the other hand, now push your fingers down gently.
3. Standing, fold your hands together in prayer keeping your elbows raised and parallel to the ground. Press evenly all the palms of your hands well adherent to each other.
4. With your torso erect, standing or sitting, lift your elbows and join the backs of your hands. Press the backs to make them adhere evenly.
Some BeC products can help you relieve discomfort such as the Pasta Idrogel which, thanks to the action of Camphor and Fenugreek extract and Linden extract, perform an anti-inflammatory action. You can make a decongestant pack to leave on for 15 to 60 minutes and then apply the Balsamo BeC which thanks to the synergistic effect of over 20 essential oils including Wintergreen oil and Savory oil relieve localized painful states even traumatic nature. For a complete action, you can combine the Leni Mal food supplement which maintains the correct functionality of the joints thanks to Juniper, Tansy and Boswellia.
Cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and the inflammatory process
Cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenase are the two families of enzymes that are commonly involved in the inflammatory process, through a complex of reactions which is called arachidonic acid cascade. This complex of reactions develops as follows: a first enzyme, a phospholipase cleaves the phospholipids of biological membranes, releasing arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid with 20 carbon atoms (eicosa-5Z,8Z,11Z,14Z-tetraenoic acid ; C20:4; ω-6). The arachidonic acid is then transformed by two parallel enzymatic pathways, that is, by two families of enzymes: the cyclooxygenase which transforms it into prostaglandins and thromboxanes and the lipooxygenase which transforms it into hydroperoxides which in turn transform into leukotrienes .
There are two cyclooxygenase isoforms indicated with type 1 and type 2, briefly COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 is the enzyme present in most cells (except red blood cells), and is constitutive, that is, it is always present. COX-2 is an inducible cyclooxygenase isoform: it is constitutively present in some organs such as brain, liver, kidney, stomach, heart and vascular system, while it can be induced (i.e. developed if necessary) following inflammatory stimuli on the skin, white blood cells and muscles.
There are various types of lipooxygenase that lead to different products, the most important in the inflammatory process is 5-lipooxygenase, 5-LOX.
Prostaglandins, Thromboxanes, and Leukotrienes
Prostaglandins, Thromboxanes, and Leukotrienes are chemical messengers or mediators, that is, molecules that bring a message to specific cells and activate or deactivate metabolic responses in these cells. They, therefore, have a function similar to hormones, only that, unlike what hormones do, the chemical message is carried only at a short distance, that is, only to the cells that are in the vicinity of the place where the mediators were produced. There are different prostaglandins, different thromboxanes and different leukotrienes that carry specific messages. In many cases these act as mediators of the inflammatory process , therefore they trigger all the events that are involved in inflammation:
– vasodilation with consequent blood supply (redness),
– increased capillary permeability with consequent fluid exudation (swelling or edema),
– stimulation of nociceptive nerve signals (pain),
– on-site recall of immune system cells that attack a possible invader (chemotactic action)
– activation of the biosynthesis of fibrous tissue to strengthen or repair the affected part (even if there is no need)
– generations of free radicals that can chemically destroy an invader (but also damage our tissues, i.e. they just “shoot in the middle”).
Prostaglandins and thromboxanes, however, also play important physiological roles in normal conditions, i.e. in the absence of inflammation. For example, they regulate the secretion of mucus that protects the walls of the stomach, they regulate the biosynthesis of cartilages and synovial fluid in the joints, they regulate vasodilation, hence the correct flow of blood in the various local districts, and more.
Triglycerides are the main components of most oils and fats. These are heavy, non-volatile and little polar molecules, insoluble in water, made up of glycerol (or glycerin) esterified with three molecules of fatty acids: therefore, it is a tri-ester of glycerin, from which the name derives. Each fatty acid contains 8 to 22 carbon atoms (commonly 16 to 18) and can be saturated, mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated. The size of the fatty acids and their saturation determines the physical and sensorial properties of the triglycerides, which can appear as oils (liquids at room temperature) or fats (solid or semi-solid) and can have greater or less greasiness and smoothness on the skin. Unsaturated triglycerides or with shorter fatty acids are more fluid and have greater flowability.
Fatty acids (saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated)
The name fatty acids is commonly used to indicate those organic acids that are found in the composition of lipids, that is, in animal and vegetable oils and fats, both in the free form and in the form of esters with glycerol (e.g. in triglycerides), or they are esterified with “fatty” alcohols, that is, long chain alcohols, to form waxes. Fatty acids are carboxylic acids (formula R-COOH) which have a long carbon chain (R), unlike common organic acids such as acetic acid and propionic acid, which have 2 or 3 carbon atoms in total, respectively. Fatty acids are defined as saturatedif they do not have double carbon-carbon bonds, (called “unsaturations”), they are defined mono-unsaturated if they have only one, they are defined mono-unsaturatedpoly-unsaturated if they have two or more double bonds (see figure). The term omega-3 (ω-3) or omega-6 (ω-3), refers to the position of the first double bond starting from the bottom of the chain of carbon atoms: if the first double bond is encountered after 3 carbon atoms the fatty acid is classified as omega-3 , if after six carbon atoms omega-6 , as shown in the figure. The most common saturated fatty acids are palmitic acid (16 carbon atoms and no double bond, C16: 0) and stearic acid (18 carbon atoms, 18: 0), the most common mono-unsaturated is the oleic acid, typical of olive oil (18 carbon atoms and 1 double bond in position 9, C18: 1; ω-9), while the most common poly-unsaturated are linoleic acid and linolenic acid, progenitors respectively omega-6 and omega-3 (see figure).
Terpenes and terpenoids
Terpenes or terpenoids are a large family of natural molecules, typically containing 10 to 30 carbon atoms, which are biosynthesized from a common “brick”, isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), containing 5 carbon atoms (see figure). The discovery that the repetitive brick consists of 5 carbon atoms is relatively recent, while it was once assumed that the entire family was created by repeating a brick of 10 carbon atoms, which was called “terpene”. Therefore, the molecules with 10 carbon atoms (such as limonene, see figure) were called mono-terpenes, i.e. composed of a single brick, diterpenes those with 20 carbon atoms (e.g. the cafestol that gives the aroma to the coffee), triterpenes those with 30 carbon atoms (e.g. beta-carotene). Since molecules made from 15 carbon atoms were also found (such as bisabolol), it was thought they contained a terpene and a half, and were called sesquiterpenes (from the Latin semis = half + atque = and). Today it is known that the repetitive unit is composed of 5 carbon atoms, therefore it is easy to understand how mono-terpenes contain two (see figure), sesquiterpenes three, diterpenes four, triterpenes six.