Symptoms and diagnosis

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common condition affecting approximately 3.8 percent of the population with a yearly incidence rate of 276 cases/100000 patients. Damage to the median nerve is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm.

The anatomy of your wrist, health problems and possibly repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diagnosis requires the completion of electrodiagnostic studies (nerve conduction studies and EMG) to understand how much damage has occurred, and possibly an ultrasound of the wrist to look for any identifiable cause.

Proper treatment is based on the severity of nerve damage identified in nerve conduction studies. Treatment is highly effective and usually relieves the tingling and numbness and restores wrist and hand function. Carpal tunnel splints, carpal tunnel corticosteroid injections, and carpal tunnel release are recommended treatments. Tingling or numbness, usually of the thumb, index, middle, and/or ring fingers, but not of the little finger.

  • You may be awakened from sleep by the symptoms
  • Activities such as holding a steering wheel, phone, or newspaper may bring on the symptoms
  • Weakness

woman holding her painful wrist caused by prolonged work on the computer, laptop/Carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, neurological disease concept/Numbness of the hand/

Risk Factors

  • Anatomic factors: e.g. wrist fracture/dislocation, arthritis that results in small bone deformity in the wrist, smaller carpal tunnel
  • Sex: more common in women
  • Nerve-damaging conditions: chronic illnesses including diabetes
  • Inflammatory conditions: e.g. rheumatoid arthritis
  • Medications: e.g. anastrozole (Arimidex)
  • Obesity
  • Body fluid changes: common during pregnancy and menopause
  • Workplace factors: tasks that require prolonged or repetitive wrist bending, especially in a cold environment, may increase the risk
  • Other medical conditions: e.g. menopause, thyroid disorders, kidney failure, lymphedema