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The carpal tunnel is the passageway in the wrist, made up of the arching carpal bones and the ligament connecting the pillars of the arch (the transverse carpal ligament).


The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through the tightly spaced carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is pinched due to swelling of the nerve, the tendons, or both. The median nerve provides sensation to the palm side of the thumb, index, middle fingers, and inside half of the ring finger, and also provides muscle power to the thumb. When this nerve becomes pinched, numbness, tingling, and sometimes pain of the affected fingers and hand may occur. There is also a connection between carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.

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What is the carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in fingers and thumbs. It results from pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. This disorder is a type of compression neuropathy that refers to nerve damage, caused by compression and irritation of the median nerve in the wrist. The nerve compresses within the carpal tunnel, a bony canal in the palm side of the wrist that provides passage for the median nerve to your hand. The irritation of the median nerve is specifically due to pressure from the transverse carpal ligament. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by trauma from repetitive work such as that of checkers in supermarkets and other types of stores, assembly line workers, meat packers, typists, word processors, accountants, writers, and so on. Other predisposing factors include obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and diabetes.

It may be interesting to describe how wrist bones form the bottom and sides of the carpal tunnel. A ligament covers the top of the tunnel. This tunnel also contains nine tendons that connect muscles to bones and bend fingers and thumb. These tendons have a lubricating membrane called synovium above, which may enlarge and swell under some circumstances. This swelling may cause the median nerve to press up against this strong ligament, which may result in numbness, tingling in the hand, clumsiness, or pain.

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