Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Also called: Median nerve entrapment

You're working at your desk, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you've had for some time in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through the wrist and up your arm. Just a passing cramp? It could be carpal tunnel syndrome.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of your hand. It contains nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the nerve to be compressed. Symptoms usually start gradually. As they worsen, grasping objects can become difficult.

Often, the cause is having a smaller carpal tunnel than other people do. Other causes include performing assembly line work, wrist injury, or swelling due to certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Women are three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent permanent nerve damage. Your doctor diagnoses carpal tunnel syndrome with a physical exam and special nerve tests. Treatment includes resting your hand, splints, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, and sometimes surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following features are indicative of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • tingling or numbness
  • weakness
It is possible that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following are the most common causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • compression of the median nerve
  • wrist fractures

Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • diabetes
  • inflammatory conditions
  • alterations in the balance of body fluids
  • obesity
  • thyroid disorders
  • working with vibrating tools

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid too much bending of wrist
  • keep the hands warm
  • gently stretch and bend the hand and wrist

Occurrence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 15-60 years

Common Gender

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • Physical examination: To test the feeling in the fingers and the strength of the muscles
  • X-ray: To create the pictures of affected wrist
  • Electromyogram: To measure the tiny electrical discharges produced in muscles
  • Nerve conduction study: To see if electrical impulses are slowed in the carpal tunnel

Doctor for Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • Orthopedic surgeon
  • Plastic surgeon

Complications of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if untreated

Yes, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is left untreated:
  • people are unable to tell between hot and cold by touch
  • weakness in fingers and thumb

Procedures for Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following procedures are used to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • Wrist splinting: To relieve nighttime symptoms of tingling and numbness
  • Surgery: To relieve pressure by cutting the ligament pressing on the median nerve

Self-care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • Maintain healthy weight: Help relieve symptoms
  • Do stretching exercises: Help provide relieve symptoms
  • Improve posture: Help relieving symptoms

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
  • Do yoga: Help reduce pain and improve grip strength
  • Hand therapy: Help reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Hand Injuries and Disorders
Wrist Injuries and Disorders

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