Carpal tunnel syndrome is by far the most common and widely known of the “pinched nerve” conditions. This article addresses: What is it? Who is at risk for this condition? How is it diagnosed? What kinds of treatments work best?
Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to symptoms caused by entrapment of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. “Carpal” itself means “wrist,” so a carpal tunnel is nothing more than a wrist tunnel. This particular tunnel can be a crowded place, as it contains not just the median nerve, but nine tendons as well. The “syndrome” consists of some combination of pain, numbness and weakness.
Pain, numbness, or both, are the usual earliest symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Pain can affect the fingers, hand, wrist and forearm, but not usually the upper arm or shoulder. Numbness affects the palm side of the thumb and fingers, but usually spares the little finger because it’s connected to a different nerve.
When weakness is present, it usually indicates that the condition is already severe, and when muscles atrophy (wither) it means the condition is even worse. The affected muscles are those...