Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder of the hand. It is caused by compression of the median nerve. The median nerve gets squeezed inside a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half the ring finger.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is created by pressure on the median nerve. This pressure is caused by the carpal tunnel becoming narrower. The narrowing can be caused by many factors, including:
Women and older adults are at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Factors that may increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes symptoms in one or both hands or wrists. Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam of your arms, wrists, and hands will be done. The exam will include tests of strength, sensation, and signs of nerve irritation or damage.
Other tests may include:
It is important to correct whatever is causing the carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes making simple changes in the workplace or home may help relieve symptoms.
Treatment may also include:
A splint will prevent extreme movements of the wrist. It is most effective when worn at night. It can help avoid waking up at night with symptoms.
The doctor may advise:
You may reduce your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome by:
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
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Last reviewed September 2017 by
EBSCO Medical Review BoardTeresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 9/9/2014
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