Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, often abbreviated to simply carpal tunnel, is a problem caused by the median nerve. The median nerve extends from the forearm down into the palm of the hand. This nerve is housed within the carpal tunnel, which is a small passageway at the base of the hand. If tendons become swollen, the tunnel is significantly narrowed. This, in turn, squeezes or compresses the median nerve. This causes pain and numbness in the hand, the wrist, and even the whole forearm.
Carpal tunnel happens for a number of different reasons, but the most common reason may be congenital. However, people with no congenital indicators may also get carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel is often seen after an injury that involved trauma to the wrist or forearm. This type of injury can cause severe swelling, which in turn may trigger the pressure on the median nerve that causes carpal tunnel. Overuse of the hand, wrist, and forearm is another reason that carpal tunnel may develop. Repetitive movement can cause strain, and then swelling that leads to carpal tunnel symptoms. If a person develops a cyst or other growth within the canal, the pressure exerted by that growth may trigger carpal tunnel syndrome.
In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can be resolved with the use of medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen may reduce swelling and pain, but they do not work for every person. People with a great deal of swelling may benefit from the use of diuretics. Some patients receive either corticosteroids or anesthetics in the form of injections, although this type of relief is only temporary. Carpal tunnel release surgery allows the doctor to enlarge the carpal tunnel, which often leads to a permanent resolution of symptoms.
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