Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed at the wrist. The median nerve is the primary nerve for the upper limbs and is located in the forearm. It originates in the brachial plexus, and runs down along the medial side of the arm to the palm of the hand. The median nerve transmits sensory sensations from the palm side of the thumb and all fingers except the small finger. It also plays a contributory role in the motor innervation for a number of small muscles within the hand that control the fingers and thumb.
On the palm side of the wrist is a passageway that is constructed of ligaments and bone, providing a tunnel through which the median nerve can feed into the hand. The passageway itself is rigid and very narrow, as its function is to protect the median nerve. Due to the passageway’s narrow structure, the median nerve is at risk for entrapment or compression injuries.
The exact cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is not well understood. It is believed that compression and injury to the median nerve accounts for the symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling associated with this condition. Both genetic and environmental factors have been identified as contributing to the risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are many treatment options available, which range from conservative methods that can be done at home, to more invasive procedures, such as surgery. It is recommended that individuals speak with our physicians about the appropriate treatment option for managing the pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.