Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition characterized by numbness, weakness, and pain in the hand and arm. It is caused by the compression of the median nerve, the nerve that goes through the carpal tunnel, a narrow tunnel in your wrist. This nerve controls much of the movement of fingers of the hand. When the nerve gets squeezed or swells, this can cause the pain and numbness associated with CTS.
Symptoms of CTS include tingling and numbness, which usually occur in any of the fingers except the pinky. Sometimes, these sensations may travel up the wrist to the arm, and may wake you from sleep. Additionally, many individuals experience weakness in their hands, causing them to drop objects more easily than usual.
CTS can occur for a number of reasons. Diseases such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can cause CTS. It can also occur from repeated, stressful movements on the hand or wrist. CTS almost always occurs in adults, and women are much more likely to get CTS than men. Pregnancy, menopause, and the use of birth control all increase risk.
CTS is diagnosed through a thorough history and physical exam of the hand and wrist in addition to x-rays and tests that look at electrical signals in the median nerve. Treatment for CTS should begin as soon as possible after symptoms begin. Possible treatments include ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and sleeping with a wrist splint. In some cases, surgery may be appropriate to relieve pressure to the median nerve.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also a good source of information.
Description Last Updated: Aug 29, 2018