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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Introduction

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common disorder that is often associated with repetitive actions of the hands and wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one type of repetitive stress injury and can lead to pain, numbness and sometimes disability of the hands.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of the compression of a nerve that runs through the wrist called the median nerve. The median nerve is located in a little channel in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is created by bones and a ligament.

The jobs of the median nerve are to transmit sensations from the fingers and hands to the spinal cord and control movements of the muscles of the hand and forearm. The median nerve can be compressed when repetitive activities of the hand and wrist cause swelling and inflammation in the wrist.

The way that this inflammation affects people can vary, but typical symptoms include burning and numbness in the hands. More severe permanent complications may also occur. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

People who frequently engage in repetitive, strenuous actions or jarring of the hands and wrists are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. These include such activities as keyboarding, sewing, performing dental work, or using a chainsaw or jack hammer.

Other risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome include having rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, menopause, hypothyroidism, diabetes, acromegaly or hand or wrist trauma or fracture. These conditions can result in compression of the median nerve by causing fluid retention, swelling, or abnormal bone anatomy.

Making a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and the types of activities a person is performing often that may lead to the disorder. A physical and neurological examination that focuses on the hands and wrists is also done. This includes having the patient perform certain hand movements to see if they result in pain or numbness.

Diagnostic testing may include special tests that test the nerves and muscles. These include an electromyography, which tests muscles movement, and a nerve conduction velocity test, which identifies how fast nerves conduct electrical impulses.

Medical testing may also include tests that can help determine any underlying medical disease or conditions that may be causing carpal tunnel syndrome, such as a wrist X-ray, which can reveal a hand or wrist fracture or arthritis. Blood tests may be done to rule-out or diagnose other conditions that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.

It is possible that a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome can be missed or delayed because the disease progresses gradually and early symptoms can be mild or assumed to be associated with other conditions, such as arthritis. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and the type of work and activities a person does. Treatment can reduce or eliminate symptoms and permanent complications, such as muscle wasting. Treatment options include modifying activities, orthopaedic devices, medication, occupational therapy and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. ...more »

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons or ligaments in the wrist become enlarged, often from inflammation, after being aggravated. The narrowed tunnel ... more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Hand or wrist problems; often from repetitive motion. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is available below.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome vary between individuals. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be vague and develop slowly.

Symptoms may include pain, weakness, burning and numbness and tingling of the fingers, hands and wrists. These symptoms can run all the way up the arm to the shoulder in some cases. Symptoms can be ...more symptoms »

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Treatments

With early recognition and treatment, it is possible to reverse the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome before permanent damage occurs in many cases. The first step in treatment is prevention of the disorder. The most successful treatment and prevention plans use a multipronged approach aimed at relieving the compression of the median nerve.

This includes changing ...more treatments »

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome may be delayed or missed because early symptoms, such as hand weakness, pain and tingling often develop slowly over weeks or months. They can also be easily attributed to other conditions, such as aging, arthritis, tendonitis or tenosynovitis. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may include:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Complications

Read more about complications of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Repetitive motions
  • Work-related repetition
  • Certain occupations - e.g. small hand tools, sewing, computers, cutting, checkouts, assembly lines, typing, accountants, writers, etc.
  • Wrist inflammations
  • Wrist injury
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Disease Topics Related To Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Latest Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Medical research articles related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Animations

Prognosis for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Prognosis for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Approximately 1 percent of individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome develop permanent injury. The majority recover completely and can avoid reinjury by changing the way they do repetitive movements, the frequency with which they do the movements, and the amount of time they rest between periods when they perform the movements. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Information Page: NINDS) ... Most people with CTS recover completely and can avoid re-injury by changing the way they do repetitive movements, the frequency with which they do the movements, and the amount of time they rest between periods when they perform the movements. Approximately 1 percent of individuals with CTS develop permanent injury. (Source: excerpt from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: NWHIC)

Research about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Visit our research pages for current research about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome treatments.

Clinical Trials for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Prevention information for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

  • Avoiding repetitive movements
  • Changing method for repetitive movements
  • Using less force in repetitive movements - e.g. hitting keys softly.
  • Resting between repetitive movements
  • Grip aids - e.g. oversize grips on pens
  • more preventions...»

Statistics for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Broader Related Topics

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

NINDS Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons or ligaments in the wrist become enlarged, often from inflammation, after being aggravated. The narrowed tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist pinches the nerves that reach the fingers and the muscles at the base of the thumb. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Information Page: NINDS)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons in the wrist become inflamed after being aggravated. Tendons can become aggravated when the carpals (a tunnel of bones) and the ligaments in the wrist narrow, pinching nerves that reach the fingers and the muscle at the base of the thumb. Repetitive flexing and extension of the wrist may cause a thickening of the protective sheaths that surround each of the tendons, which narrows the tunnel. (Source: excerpt from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: NWHIC)

Definitions of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Entrapment of the MEDIAN NERVE in the carpal tunnel, which is formed by the flexor retinaculum and the CARPAL BONES. This syndrome may be associated with repetitive occupational trauma (CUMULATIVE TRAUMA DISORDERS); wrist injuries; AMYLOID NEUROPATHIES; rheumatoid arthritis (see ARTHRITIS, RHEUMATOID); ACROMEGALY; PREGNANCY; and other conditions. Symptoms include burning pain and paresthesias involving the ventral surface of the hand and fingers which may radiate proximally. Impairment of sensation in the distribution of the median nerve and thenar muscle atrophy may occur. (Joynt, Clinical Neurology, 1995, Ch51, p45) - (Source - Diseases Database)

A disorder caused by compression of a nerve in the carpal tunnel (where the nerve passes through the wrist); characterized by discomfort and weakness in the hand - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Ophanet, a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet

 

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