man touching wrist at desk

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common disorder that is often associated with repetitive actions of the hands and wrists, such as typing at a keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to pain, numbness, and sometimes disability of the hands. It is a type of repetitive stress injury and a common occupational injury.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of the compression of the median nerve, which runs through the wrist. The median nerve is located in a narrow channel in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, which is created by bones and a ligament.

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The functions of the median nerve are to transmit sensations from the fingers and hands to the spinal cord and control movement of the hand and forearm muscles. The median nerve can be compressed when repetitive activities of the hand and wrist cause swelling and inflammation in the wrist and in the carpal tunnel. The way that this inflammation affects people can vary, but typical symptoms include burning and numbness in the hands.

Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or eliminate symptoms and complications of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as permanent hand numbness and grip weakness. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as burning and numbness in your hands,or pain in your hand, wrist or forearm.