Carpal Tunnel

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Carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist that contains and protects the nerves and tendons that extend into your hand. When the tissues in the carpal tunnel becomes swollen or inflamed, they put pressure on your median nerve, which provides sensation to our thumb and index, middle and ring fingers. Excess pressure on this nerve produces the numbness and pain that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome. Both wrists can be affected.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Tingling or numbness in part of the hand
  • Sharp pains that shoot from the wrist up the arm, especially at night
  • Burning sensations in the fingers
  • Morning stiffness or cramping of hands
  • Thumb weakness and frequent dropping of objects
  • Inability to make a fist.
  • Causes

    Work or hobbies that are hand-intensive, involving repetitive wrist or finger motion, forceful pinching, gripping or grasping or working with vibrating tools. Typing, needlework, assembly line task, and even your sleep position can pose problems. Women seem to be more at risk than men. Some diseases can cause carpal tunnel syndrome such as, some thyroid conditions, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy. Children that play computer games may also be at risk.


    The doctor may want to do an electromyogram (nerve conduction study) to find out if the electrical impulses traveling along the median nerve are slowed in the carpal tunnel, indicating that the nerve is being compressed. A test for Tinel’s sign also may be done: the doctor taps on the front of the wrist, and tingling or a shooting pain into your hand or forearm is usually a reliable indication that the syndrome is present.


    Usually simply resting the joint and wearing a splint to immobilize the wrist will help. Your doctor may also inject the area with a steroid drug, such as cortisone. But this treatment of injections, should only be use when all else fails. An operation may also be done, if the pain is persistent and the numbness continues. This surgery is usually done through an arthroscopic surgery. Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment.


    Take quick breaks, massage, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can relieve the symptoms temporarily. You may also want to try wearing a wrist splint at night, remember it should be snug, but not tight. Take micro-breaks every 15 to 20 minutes.

    Take a 60 seconds to stop what you are doing, gently stretch your hands and fingers back. Avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down. If you use a keyboard, keep it at elbow height or slightly lower. Relax your grip. Avoid using a hard grip when driving your car, painting, or writing. Remember, if pain, numbness, or weakness persist for more than a couple of weeks, see your doctor.