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1. What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the compression of the median nerve when it passes into the hand. Located on the palm side of our hand, the median nerve is also known as the carpal tunnel. It provides the sensation (the ability to feel) to our thumb, long finger and index finger. The feeling of tingling, weakness or numbness in the hand caused by nerve compression is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
General symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are burning, itching or tingling numbness in the first three fingers of the hand. Burning and pain that travels up the arm, weakness of the hand muscles and wrist pain that disturbs sleep are also associated symptoms.
3. What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
When excess pressure is experienced in the wrist and on the median nerve it can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Inflammation may also cause swelling and subsequent pain. Swelling in the wrist and obstructed blood flow cause this condition. The common causes are: repetitive maneuvers; work stress; diabetes; trauma; and a tumor or cyst in the carpal tunnel.
4. How do I know whether I am at a risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?
Medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Lifestyle factors such as high salt intake, smoking, high body mass index and sedentary lifestyle may also pose an increased threat. Those people are more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome whose jobs involve repetitive wrist movement.
5. How is carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosed?
Doctors will be able to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by checking the patient's medical history, performing a physical examination and running certain tests. X-ray and nerve conduction studies help diagnose this condition. Focusing on the median nerve that runs through the forearm into the hand will help understanding if the nerve is squeezed or pressed through the carpal tunnel.