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Injuries and Conditions > Carpal Tunnel Syndrome          
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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Image of

                Cross-Section of WristWhat is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition which usually arises due to repeated pressure on the carpal tunnel.  This often results in pinching the median nerve (pictured at right in green) in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a bony hollow within the underside of the wrist in which the median nerve is located.  Pinching or compression of this nerve by the transverse carpal ligament (a tendon in the hand) can lead to a progressively crippling disorder. 

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Common symptoms include wrist pain, numbness and tingling in the hand, pain consisting of a 'pins and needles' feeling at night, weakness in grip and a general reduction in dexterity and lack of precision in movement.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Develop?

Typically Carpal Tunnel Syndrome arises from performing forceful repetitive actions with the hands and wrists such as typing, writing or even grasping objects.  This condition occurs more often in women than men, due to smaller bone structures in the wrist which make the hollow thinner.  It can arise when the muscles used to perform these activities become inflamed, compressing the tunnel.  It can also occur by exerting pressure directly on the soft underside of the wrist (in between the bottom of the palm and the underside of the forearm).  This pressure can come from the edge of a desk (if the work surface is higher than the elbows of the user) or even a raised 'support' such as a wrist 'rest' which in many cases causes more problems than it solves.

What Movements Should be Avoided if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Prevent any direct pressure and indirect pressure (from inflammation) in the wrist, and maximize blood flow.  Avoid putting pressure on the unprotected underside of the wrist.  Avoid twisting at the wrist (from left to right).  To visualize this, a theoretical line drawn from the elbow, through the forearm and extended forward should go through the middle finger on the hand when avoiding positions of Ulnar Deviation or radial deviation.  Avoid bending the wrist up (Wrist Extension) or down (wrist flexion) too much past a neutral relaxed position.  Ensure good blood flow to the wrist through the arm by avoiding movements or postures in the arm or upper body which constrict blood flow.

What Types of Products can be Used to Help Prevent or Reduce the Symptoms and Incidence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Separated Keyboards and Fixed Split Keyboards can help to prevent lateral twisting at the wrist when keyboarding, and Compact Keyboards (i.e. those without a numeric keypad) will prevent twisting at the wrist when reaching for the mouse.  Orthopedic Mice of the correct size for the user which properly support the structure of the hand in a neutral posture help to prevent compression of the carpal tunnel.  Articulating Keyboard Arms can assist by ensuring that the work surface is at the correct height.

Last edited December 16th, 2013

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