What is it? Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that affects the hand. The symptoms result from pressure on the median nerve at the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist through which 9 tendons and the median nerve travel from the forearm into the hand. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the fingers and hand, and pain in the arm, hand, and fingers. Unless treated, the symptoms tend to progress, eventually leading to constant numbness and occasionally to loss of muscle strength in the hand.
What causes it? The symptoms are caused from pressure on the nerve. Tendinitis may lead to swelling within the carpal tunnel and then to increased pressure on the nerve. Conditions with an increased incident of carpal tunnel syndrome include diabetes, hypothyroidism, and arthritis. Carpal tunnel can also be seen after fractures or dislocation of the wrist and with pregnancy, but in this case it usually resolves after delivery.
What are the symptoms? Numbness and tingling involving the thumb, index, and middle finger are the most common symptoms seen with carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are often most severe at night. There can be a tendency to drop things because of the hand feeling clumsy. Occasionally the numbness or pain may involve the other fingers or move up into the forearm or arm. Some people notice the numbness more when using a computer mouse, keyboard, tablet, or when talking on a phone.