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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition brought on by increased pressure on the median nerve at the wrist also referred to as a pinched nerve in the wrist. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, and pain in the arm, hand, and fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when pressure builds up from swelling in a small tunnel in the wrist where nerves and tendons pass through and puts pressure on the nerve.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel

Usually the cause is unknown. Pressure on the nerve can happen several ways: swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons, called tenosynovitis; joint dislocations, fractures, and arthritis can narrow the tunnel; and keeping the wrist bent for long periods of time.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually include pain, numbness, tingling, or a combination of the three. The numbness or tingling most often takes place in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The symptoms usually are felt during the night but also may be noticed during daily activities such as driving or reading a newspaper. Patients may sometimes notice a weaker grip, occasional clumsiness, and a tendency to drop things.

Carpal Tunnel Treatment Options

Symptoms may often be relieved without surgery. Changing the patterns of hand use or keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position may help reduce pressure on the nerve. Wearing wrist splints at night may relieve the symptoms that interfere with sleep. 

When symptoms are severe or do not improve, carpal tunnel release surgery may be needed to make more room for the nerve. Following surgery, soreness around the incision may last for several weeks or months. The numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly. It may take several months for strength in the hand and wrist to return to normal. Carpal tunnel symptoms may not completely go away after surgery, especially in severe cases.

Learn more about Carpal Tunnel Treatment Options >

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