What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
syndrome is pain, tingling, and other problems in your hand because of pressure
median nerve in your wrist.
nerve and several
tendons run from your forearm to your hand through a
small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve controls
feeling in your thumb and first three fingers (not
your little finger).
See a picture of the
carpal tunnel .
the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. This pressure can come from
swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller. Things that can lead
to carpal tunnel syndrome include:
What are the symptoms?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can
cause tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers or hand. Some people
may have pain in their arm between their hand and their elbow.
Symptoms most often occur in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and
half of the ring finger. If you have problems with your other fingers but your
little finger is fine, this may be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
A different nerve gives feeling to the little finger.
first notice symptoms at night. You may be able to get relief by shaking your
How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your health and activities. You
also may have some tests.
Your doctor will ask if you have any
health problems-such as arthritis, hypothyroidism, or diabetes-or if you are
pregnant. He or she will ask if you recently hurt your wrist, arm, or neck.
Your doctor will want to know about your daily routine and any recent
activities that could have hurt your wrist.
During the exam, your
doctor will check the feeling, strength, and appearance of your neck,
shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands.
Your doctor may suggest
tests, such as:
- Blood tests to see if any health problems
might be causing your symptoms.
- Nerve testing to find out if the
median nerve is working as it should.
How is it treated?
Mild symptoms usually can be
treated with home care. The sooner you start treatment, the better your chances
of stopping symptoms and preventing long-term damage to the nerve.
You can do a few things at home to help your hand and wrist feel
- Stop activities that cause numbness and pain.
Rest your wrist longer between activities.
- Ice your wrist for 10 to
15 minutes 1 or 2 times an hour. Try taking
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to
relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Wear a wrist splint at night to
keep your wrist in a neutral position. This takes pressure off your median
nerve. Your wrist is in a neutral position when it is straight or only slightly
bent. Holding a glass of water is an example of your wrist in a neutral