Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm
in to the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or pinched at the wrist. The
median nerve controls the sensation to the palm side of the thumb and
fingers. If the tendons become irritated it may cause thickening of the
carpal tunnel which is a narrow rigid passageway of ligament and bones.
This may cause pressure against the nerve and result in pain, weakness
There are various factors that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome including
congenital reasons where the carpal tunnel is simply small. Other contributing
factors can combine to cause the resultant carpal tunnel syndrome including
trauma or injury to the wrist, mechanical problems in the wrist joint,
work stress, repeated use of certain tools, etc. In some cases, carpal
tunnel syndrome has been linked to diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid
arthritis and even due to fluid retention during pregnancy.
Symptoms usually take place gradually and include burning, tingling or
numbness in the palm of the hand or in the fingers, especially in the
thumb, index and middle or ring fingers but not in the little finger.
Many people wake with these sensations and feel the need to shake out
Early diagnosis and treatment to prevent damage to the median nerve. A
thorough physical examination of the wrists, hands, arms, shoulders and
neck may be done to determine if the pain may be due to an underlying
cause. Lab tests and x-rays may also be ordered to rule out other conditions
such as diabetes, arthritis and fractures. Often a Nerve Conduction Study
will be requested in order to determine the severity of damage to the nerve.