Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs during compression or irritation of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel on the anterior side of the wrist.
This condition is usually the result of repetitive wrist movement, such as regular and prolonged use of a computer mouse or repetitive movements at work. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur as a result of trauma or tendinitis of the flexor muscles of the wrist, or during pregnancy due to nerve compression as a result of swelling in the hands.
It is estimated that about 8% of the adult population is affected, making it a relatively common condition. It is the most common compression neuropathy of the upper limb. Women are twice as affected as men.
The nerves of the hand as well as the tendons of the flexor muscles pass to the anterior aspect of the wrist under the transverse carpal ligament that holds them in place. It is the passage formed by the transverse ligament and the bones of the wrist, called carpal bones, that forms the carpal tunnel. The syndrome usually occurs when, for some reason, the space in the carpal tunnel is reduced and the median nerve is compressed.
In some cases, a dysfunction of the cervical spine can cause symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome without repetitive wrist extension motion.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause, but is not limited to, numbness and tingling in the first three fingers and half of the fourth, as well as atrophy of the hand muscles. During the night, you may experience pain and numbness from prolonged bending of the wrist. Symptoms are also exacerbated during repetitive activities involving wrist movements.