Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder of the hand. It is caused by compression of the median nerve. The median nerve gets squeezed inside a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half the ring finger.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is created by pressure on the median nerve. This pressure is caused by the carpal tunnel becoming narrower. The narrowing can be caused by many factors, including:

Risk Factors

Women and older adults are at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Factors that may increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome include:


Carpal tunnel syndrome causes symptoms in one or both hands or wrists. Symptoms may include:


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam of your arms, wrists, and hands will be done. The exam will include tests of strength, sensation, and signs of nerve irritation or damage.
Other tests may include:


It is important to correct whatever is causing the carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes making simple changes in your workplace or home may help relieve symptoms.
Treatment may also include:

Rest, Ice, Elevation, and Exercises

  • Rest your wrist by keeping it straight and decreasing activities that worsen pain.
  • Gently apply ice packs to the area.
  • Elevate the hand above your heart to reduce swelling.
  • Do exercises as directed by your healthcare provider.

A Wrist Splint

A splint will prevent extreme movements of the wrist. It is most effective when worn at night. It can help you avoid waking up with symptoms.


  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Injection of cortisone into the carpal tunnel


Surgery may be needed if symptoms are severe, or continue after you try other treatments. The most common procedure is the carpal tunnel release .


You may reduce your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome by taking these steps:


Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Association of Neurological Surgeons


Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Canadian Physiotherapy Association


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