Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) affects the median nerve and the tendons responsible for bending the fingers. When someone has CTS, the median nerve, which extends from the forearm down to the hand, is squeezed at the person’s wrist.
The carpal tunnel, located at the base of the hand, is a narrow passageway made up of ligament and bones; it houses the median nerve, which as we mentioned earlier, controls the fingers. The lining of the irritated tendons can swell, which narrows the tunnel and compresses the median nerve, which can lead to the following:
- Pain in the hand
- Pain in the wrist
- Pain in the arm
- Pain in the forearm
- Decreased grip strength
- Difficulty grasping small objects
WHAT CAUSES CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a combination of factors usually lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, all of which reduce the space for the median nerve in the sufferer’s carpal tunnel. The problem is not usually the nerve itself.
The contributing factors include:
- Work stress
- A sprain or fracture
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Repeated use of vibrating tools
- Trauma to the wrist that leads to swelling
- An injury to the wrist that causes swelling
Carpal tunnel syndrome almost exclusively occurs in adults, and it affects women far more than it affects men, probably because their carpal tunnel is smaller. Carpal tunnel is especially common in those who work in: assembly, manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, finishing, and fish packing.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “A common repetitive motion injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.” Johns Hopkins Medicine goes on to say, “It is often seen with people who use computer keyboards or work in assembly lines.”