What is Carpal Tunnel?

In our bodies the carpal tunnel also known as the carpal canal is a passageway existing on the palm side of the wrist where the forearm connects to the middle compartment of the deep plane of our palms. The carpal tunnel is made from the joining of eight bones and the transverse carpal ligament, tendons and the median nerve.

The median nerve and the tendons are in the “tunnel”, surrounded by the eight bones and the transverse carpal ligament. It is important to known that the median nerve rests between the tendons and the transverse carpal ligament.

The carpal tunnel is narrow and when any of the tendons passing through it degenerates or swells, the canal narrows down more. The narrowing of the canal often leads to the median nerve becoming compressed which is a medical condition known as the carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Carpal Tunnel Infographic

Carpal Tunnel Infographic

Understanding Carpal tunnel syndrome

To understand why the compression of the median nerve is a medical condition one needs to understand its functions. There are two main functions. The first is to relay the “feel” of touch to your brain. The second function is to relay the nerve signals from the brain which allow thumb movement.

 

So when the median nerve is compressed there is a disruption in the nerve signals leading to the sense of touch and hand movement being adversely affected. When the median nerve is compressed tingling, numbness, pain in fingers and hand may be experienced. The feeling of pain can extend till the forearm.

 

Causes of Carpal tunnel syndrome

Generally anything that compresses the median nerve can kick-start the carpal tunnel syndrome’s emergence. For example a wrist fracture can possibly narrow the carpal tunnel, compress the median nerve and start the carpal tunnel syndrome. In short there are many possible causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

The most common causes known is the carrying out of repetitive everyday tasks. For example excessively repetitive movement of the hand and wrists from typing can lead to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome arising.

 

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

People who have carpal tunnel syndrome usually find their fingers “falling asleep” and becoming numb when sleeping. There are two reasons for these symptoms arising at night. Firstly it can be due to the stretched and relaxed position of the hand when lying down. Or it is due to the amassment of fluid that pressurizes the joints. Numbness and pain in the hand are carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and may go as far the shoulder.

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