common hand conditions
Common hand conditions
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by pain, numbness and possible weakness in the hand because of compression of the median nerve at the wrist (the carpal tunnel).
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The median nerve supplies feeling to our thumb, index , middle and half of the ring finger. It also supplies the small muscles around the thumb in the hand via the motor branch. This nerve runs together with the flexor tendons in a tight compatment across the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This tunnel is formed by the bones in our wrist and a thick ligament called the transverse carpal ligament. Because of this tight structure forming the tunnel there is very little space available to accommodate any changes to the contents of the tunnel. Thus the pressure in the tunnel increases and the nerve becomes compressed.
There are many 2ndry causes that alter the structure and contents of the tunnel and such as synovitis or previous trauma to the wrist. However in most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome there is no identifiable cause. There are strong associations with diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome. Females are also more prone to get carpal tunnel syndrome and the most common age group is between 45-70yrs.
Much has been written about certain occupations causing carpal tunnel syndrome but there is little evidence to support such claims. It is more likely that certain patients have other features that increase the chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and the workplace is only one of several risk factors that contribute to a patient developing the condition. Ergonomics in the workplace has been acknowledged as being an important factor in