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Do I have carpal tunnel syndrome? Read this brief guide from Body in Harmony Chiropractic Center. Find out what common carpal tunnel symptoms are, and learn your treatment options.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome , or CTS, is a common problem, especially among people who use their hands repetitively for work. CTS is named for the part of the wrist, known as the carpal tunnel, where many believe the symptoms of CTS start. Carpals are the official name for your wrist bones (you have many of them). Carpal tunnel syndrome is an inflammation or compression of nerves in the carpal tunnel, creating numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the hands.

Where is the carpal tunnel?

Carpal_tunnel_scarsTo find the location of the carpal tunnel, hold your hand open and out in front of you. Find the middle of your palm, and then look downward toward your wrist. You will see several creases in the skin just above where you might wear a wrist watch. If you flex your hand forward and backward you will probably see a few tendons rise and fall under your skin.

This is the location of the carpal tunnel.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Someone who is experiencing CTS may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the palm
  • Pain in the wrist
  • Numbness in the hand
  • Tingling (paresthesia) or strange sensations across the palm
  • Weakness in the muscles that control the thumb
  • Any of the above symptoms in the first three digits of the hand as well
  • Dropping items because of a loss of grip strength
  • Permanent loss of muscle and muscle coordination may happen in severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome

These symptoms may be worse:

  • After using the affected hand at work
  • During pregnancy
  • After sleeping
  • Doing any activity that requires the person to flex the hand

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow space where many muscle tendons travel from the forearm into the hand. It also holds nerves traveling from the arm into the hand as well, in addition to ligaments, blood vessels, and other important parts of the anatomy that make the hand work properly.

It is believed that inflammation or some sort of compression in this small tunnel results in the majority of carpal tunnel syndromes. As inflammation causes expansion in the tunnel, then pressure is placed on the nerves.

Many symptoms of carpal tunnel, however, do not just originate in the palm or wrist. Learn the connection between the the neck and carpal tunnel symptoms. Or keep reading part 2 for carpal tunnel treatment options.

Picture credit: Henry K Gerlach in Wikipedia Commons.

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