Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist made up of the bones of the wrist and a ligament that runs across the palm side of the wrist. The median nerve travels through this space and supplies sensation to the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger. It also controls some of the muscles in the thumb side of the palm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that results from abnormal function of the median nerve. It can be caused by any sudden or prolonged compression or stretching of the nerve. Some people have an anatomically narrow carpal tunnel. Anything that causes inflammation and swelling inside this space can put pressure on and irritate the nerve. Holding your wrist in certain positions for an extended period can compress or stretch the nerve.  Commonly, symptoms will occur during sleep and people can wake up with their hand numb and tingling because of the positioning of the wrist while sleeping.


  • Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers
  • Hand feels like it is “asleep” and you may constantly shake your hand to “wake it up”
  • Symptoms may increase with certain positions of the wrist or when doing certain activities with your hands
  • Weakness with grip or dropping objects
  • Rarely symptoms may travel up the forearm
  • In severe cases, there can be muscle loss in the thumb side of the palm 


  • Take frequent breaks or modify activities that require use or your hands
  • Avoid positions that bring on or worsen symptoms
  • Ice the wrist to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Splints for the wrist help avoid positions that compress or stretch the nerve
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections into the carpal tunnel space
  • Hand therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture

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