Carpal tunnel syndrome

Alternative Names

Median nerve dysfunction; Median nerve entrapment

Definition of Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the median nerve — the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The median nerve provides feeling and movement to the “thumb side” of the hand (the palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, and thumb side of the ring finger).

Signs and tests

During a physical examination, the doctor may find:

Treatment

You may try wearing a splint at night for several weeks. If this does not help, you may need to try wearing the splint during the day. Avoid sleeping on your wrists. Hot and cold compresses may also be recommended.

Expectations (prognosis)

Symptoms often improve with treatment, but more than 50% of cases eventually require surgery. Surgery is often successful, but full healing can take months.

Review

A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery (10/10/2009). – 5/25/2010

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Surface anatomy - normal wrist
Compression of the median nerve
Carpal tunnel surgical procedure

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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