What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is pain, numbness, and tingling in your fingers and hand. Those feelings are caused by pressure on a nerve in your wrist.
The carpal tunnel is a space (channel) on the palm side of your wrist
The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel
Pressure on the nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome
Treatment usually involves pain relievers taken by mouth, a splint, a shot of medicine called a corticosteroid, and sometimes surgery
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve in your wrist is squeezed from swelling or bands of hard tissue within the carpal tunnel. Usually the cause is unknown. But some repetitive actions may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, including:
Work that requires you to bend up your wrist too far in a repeated, forceful way, such as using a hammer
Using a keyboard in an incorrect position
Using objects that vibrate for a long time (for example, certain power tools)
You're more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes Diabetes Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. You get diabetes if your body's normal way of controlling blood sugar isn't working right. There are 2 types of... read more or rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system... read more .
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Symptoms may happen in one or both hands:
Numbness, burning, tingling, and pain in your thumb, index, middle, and part of your ring fingers
Burning or aching pain with numbness and tingling that often wakes you up at night
Weakness and difficulty holding things in your hand
Over time, the thumb muscles can weaken and shrink
How can doctors tell if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?
The doctor will review your symptoms and examine your hand and wrist
The doctor may do a test that sends small electric shocks through your wrist to measure how fast and strong the nerve sends signals through the nerve (nerve conduction test)
How do doctors treat carpal tunnel syndrome?
Treatment can include:
Avoiding positions that bend your wrist too much or put pressure on your wrist, like using a keyboard incorrectly
Wearing wrist splints to keep your wrists straight, especially while sleeping or when using a keyboard or hand tool
Taking mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Getting shots into your wrist (carpal tunnel) of medicine called corticosteroids, if the pain is severe
Having surgery, if your pain is severe or your muscle shrinks or weakens
How can I prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?
You should avoid positions that bend your wrist too much or put extra pressure on the nerve.
Use a keyboard in the correct position:
Keep your hand, wrist, and forearm in a straight line
Use a wrist pad to support your wrist, if needed
Proper Keyboard Position
Using a computer keyboard that is positioned improperly may cause or contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. To prevent injury, the user should keep the wrist in a neutral position. That is, the line from the hand to the forearm should be straight. The hand may be slightly lower than the forearm. But the hand should never be higher, and the wrist should not be cocked. The keyboard should be positioned relatively low, keeping the hand slightly lower than the elbow. A wrist pad can be used to support the wrist.