Person pressing down on their wrist checking for soreness

Is This Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Do you have numbness, tingling and pain in your hands and arms? If so, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve (one of the major nerves in your hand) is squeezed or compressed as it travels through a passageway on the palm side of your wrist (actually called the carpal tunnel). This nerve is responsible for movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers.

So, what causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The condition could be hereditary, but there are other factors that can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive hand movement can cause inflammation of the tendons and swelling that puts pressure on the nerve. Illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, arthritis and diabetes can cause the syndrome, as well as the swelling from pregnancy. Women and the elderly are more likely to develop the condition.

A lot of times the symptoms first appear in the hands at night. Symptoms will gradually increase as the condition worsens, but shaking the hands and wrists might relieve the pain.

Once diagnosed by a doctor, there are a variety of treatments to try. Wearing a brace or splint, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, changes in repetitive hand and wrist activities, nerve gliding exercises and steroid injections are all treatment options. If the condition has progressed, surgery might be another option.

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