Conditions InDepth: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the wrist, which subsequently causes symptoms in the hand. Pressure on the median nerve, which is inside a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, causes the nerve to malfunction. This nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half the ring finger. It also controls several muscles in the hand, the most important of which allows the thumb to touch the little finger. Compression occurs when the tissues in the carpal tunnel swell up.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive strain injury. Although there are many causes for carpal tunnel syndrome, by far the most common is doing repetitive motions as part of your job. Fragmentation of work to the point that one person does one task over and over has been blamed for the increase in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in recent years. There are approximately one million new cases every year.

What are the risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome?
What are some causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
What are the treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Are there screening tests for carpal tunnel syndrome?
How can I reduce my risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with carpal tunnel syndrome?
Where can I get more information about carpal tunnel syndrome?


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org/ .

American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/AM/Template.cfm .

Carpal tunnel syndrome: a practical review. Am Fam Physician . 1994 May 1.

Last reviewed August 2008 by Robert Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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