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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

To put Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTC) into everyday language would be to describe intermittent numbness and pain to the thumb, index, middle, and ring finger of a hand, caused by an irritation of nerves passing through the wrist.


Medical professionals see CTC as “idiopathic,” or “…a disease of unknown cause…” CTC is a “neuropathy,” or a diseased condition of the nervous system. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway through the wrist bones, approximately as wide as the thumb, and contains many nerves and ligaments. Flexing the wrist causes pressure to these ligaments and nerves, resulting in numbness, tingling, pain, and a cold or hot sensation. It is safe to say that long term, unnatural flexing of the wrist is one of the leading causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. First mentioned in the mid-19th century, carpal tunnel syndrome became common in the years following World War II. The use of wrist splints to alleviate symptoms caused by wrist flexure during sleep is encouraged. Some modern theories lead to an occupational, or ergonomic, approach. Some cite repetitive tasks and posture as causes for CTC.


The computer age has brought about the recognition CTC in the workplace with long hours at keyboarding without a supporting structure under the wrists as a prime cause. Other causes of CTC may include rheumatoid arthritis, fluid retention in tissues caused by disease, trauma, tumors, and obesity. A physician may test for CTC by gently flexing the patient’s wrist and waiting to see if symptoms occur. If the patient describes numbness in the fingers, wrist, and hand, it is usually confirmation of medial nerve compression. Some patients find relief with injections of cortisone. Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves in the wrist may be necessary in patients with constant symptoms. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects 1 out of 20 people in the USA, with Caucasian women having the highest incidence.


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