Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to the compression of the median nerve
within the wrist that causes pain and dysfunction. The median nerve,
along with flexor tendons (connective tissue that attaches muscles
to bones), sits inside the carpal tunnel. This nerve provides
sensation to the thumb and fingers and helps to move the hand. When
the surrounding tissues become inflamed, they squeeze the nerve and
tendons tightly within the carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome
commonly affects women between 30 and 60 years of age. Causes may
include wrist injuries like bone fractures, sprains or strains;
repetitive movements like typing, sewing, driving, or writing; and
inflammation from arthritis. Risk factors that may contribute
include certain jobs (computer workers, cashiers, musicians);
conditions with hormonal changes (pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome,
menopause); and certain disease processes (diabetes, high blood
pressure, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, blood disorders and
Symptoms may include:
• Numbness, tingling and weakness of hand, fingers, palm and wrist
• Severe forearm pain that starts at the wrist and spreads to the
shoulder (common at night)
• Stiff and painful joints
• Inability to make a fist and cramps in the hand and fingers
• Decreased sensation or loss of sensation in the hand or fingers
• Inability to perform fine finger movements
WHAT YOUR DOCTOR CAN DO:
• Diagnose the disease by asking about your symptoms, doing a
physical exam, and ordering x-rays of the wrist.
• Order tests that evaluate the electrical impulses and conduction
of the median nerve.
• Provide a splint to support the wrist and limit movement.
• Prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce
the tissue swelling and diuretics to empty excess fluid from body
• Inject corticosteroid medication into the carpal tunnel space to
reduce the inflammation.
• Recommend surgery to release the trapped median nerve.
• Provide vitamin B6 injections to improve sensation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
• Rest your wrist and wear the splints, especially at night.
• Exercise the wrist joint by dangling your arms, shaking the wrist,
and rubbing your hand.
• Take the anti-inflammatory medication as directed by your doctor.
• Apply hot or cold compresses to the affected area to reduce
• Adjust the height of your chair to your desk, use computer
keyboard support pads, and take breaks at least once an hour while
performing repetitive tasks.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:
• Most people improve with conservative treatment or surgery.
• If pregnancy is the cause, the delivery of the baby generally
``cures'' the condition.
• Some complications may include permanent nerve damage and muscle
wasting that leads to numbness, weakness and paralysis of the
CALL 1061 OR SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL
ASSISTANCE If you develop symptoms of carpal tunnel
syndrome or if the symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks