Carpal tunnel syndrome
Dawson, David M. West Roxbury Veterans Affairs Medical Center, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:March 2021
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A condition caused by the thickening of ligaments and tendon sheaths at the wrist, with consequent compression of the median nerve at the palm. The carpal tunnel is a thin passageway among ligaments and tendon sheaths located in the wrist joint area on the anterior (palm) side of the hand. The median nerve, which extends along the middle of the arm and forearm to the hand, courses through the carpal tunnel (see illustration). When increased pressure in the wrist compresses the median nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome can result. Affected individuals report numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand, with the discomfort often becoming worse at night or after use of the hand. Physical examination of the injured hand during the early stages of the syndrome often reveals no abnormality. With more severe nerve compression, the individual experiences sensory loss over some or all of the digits innervated by the median nerve (affecting the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger) and weakness of thumb movement. See also: Joint (anatomy); Joint disorders; Ligament; Nerve; Nervous system (vertebrate); Nervous system disorders; Tendon
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