What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

K. Waterman
K. Waterman
The carpal tunnel is a small space between the carpal bones.
The carpal tunnel is a small space between the carpal bones.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when there is an inflammation of the median nerve. This nerve runs through the carpal tunnel which is made up of bones and ligaments in the wrist area. As the nerve swells, it creates pressure and pain in the fingers, hands, and wrists. Repetitive and strenuous use of the fingers and hands are the most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.

A person who has carpel tunnel syndrome usually experiences a tingling in the fingers, hands and sometimes forearm. The severity of the symptoms ranges from mild discomfort to disabling pain and loss of use of the wrist and fingers.

A person's wrist posture when maneuvering a computer mouse may influence the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
A person's wrist posture when maneuvering a computer mouse may influence the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The two most common and accurate tests for determining carpal tunnel syndrome are the Tinel's sign test and Phalan's sign test. Both require the patient to make specific motions with their wrists and hands. If they experience a tingling sensation, then they probably have carpal tunnel syndrome.

To treat carpal tunnel syndrome, the first step is to stop the actions that caused it in the first place. Sometimes this is as simple as adjusting your keyboard to a lower position or changing the way tools are held. Taking periodic breaks from using the hands and wrists can also alleviate symptoms.

A wrist brace may be worn to treat carpal tunnel.
A wrist brace may be worn to treat carpal tunnel.

More severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgery, but that is used as a last resort and only when weeks of physical or occupational therapy have failed. Recently, it was determined that carpal tunnel syndrome is one of most common causes of absenteeism from work.

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Discussion Comments

jimpapa02

I have been diagosned with carpal tunnel sydrome which has been caused by use of vibrating tools, will working in the outdoors make the symtoms worse especially in cold,rainy & windy weather

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    • The carpal tunnel is a small space between the carpal bones.
      By: Alila Medical Media
      The carpal tunnel is a small space between the carpal bones.
    • A person's wrist posture when maneuvering a computer mouse may influence the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
      By: Cousin_Avi
      A person's wrist posture when maneuvering a computer mouse may influence the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
    • A wrist brace may be worn to treat carpal tunnel.
      By: ganko
      A wrist brace may be worn to treat carpal tunnel.
    • Adjusting your keyboard can help relieve carpal tunnel symptoms.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Adjusting your keyboard can help relieve carpal tunnel symptoms.
    • Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers.
      By: maticsandra
      Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers.