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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that results from the pressure on the median nerve - the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers. The median nerve provides feeling and movement to the "thumb side" of the hand (the palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, and thumb side of the ring finger).

Causes and risk factors
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. The condition occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old, and is more common in women than men. Typing on a computer keyboard is probably the most common cause of carpal tunnel. Other causes include: pregnancy, sewing, driving, assembly line work, painting, writing, use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate), sports such as racquetball or handball, playing some musical instruments.

Signs and Symptoms
  • •Numbness or tingling of the palm, thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands
  • •Pain in wrist or hand in one or both hands extending to the elbow
  • •Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
  • •Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags and atrophy of the muscles under the thumb
  • •Weakness in one or both hands
Treatment and Prevention
You may try wearing a splint at night for several weeks. If this does not help, you may need to try wearing the splint during the day. Avoid sleeping on your wrists. Hot and cold compresses may also be recommended. There are many changes you can make in the workplace to reduce the stress on your wrist. Avoid or reduce the number of repetitive wrist movements whenever possible. Use tools and equipment that are properly designed to reduce the risk of wrist injury.