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Facts about carpal tunnel syndrome

Californians afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience symptoms in their hands such as weakness, numbness/tingling or loss or coordination. According to the Mayo Clinic, several factors can contribute to the development of CTS. For example, women are more likely than men to develop CTS, and the condition often occurs during pregnancy. Other medical conditions, such as thyroid disease, kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis, neurological conditions or menopause, can also play a part in the development of CTS. People who are obese also face a greater risk.

The carpal tunnel is a structure within the wrist that allows the median nerve, which runs the length of the arm, to pass into the hand. According to WebMD, the median nerve controls the movement of all the fingers, except the pinky, and also controls feeling in the thumb. Swelling of the carpal tunnel can cause it to narrow, which puts pressure on the median nerve. Pressure on the nerve prevents it from functioning properly.

Researchers believe that repetitive motion of the wrist and hands can contribute to swelling of the carpal tunnel. Therefore, people who perform jobs that require repetitive wrist motions, such as bakers, assembly line workers, musicians, cashiers or hair stylists, may be at greater risk of developing CTS. Symptoms are more likely to occur at night due to relaxation of the hand while sleeping.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often treated with conservative measures, such as immobilizing the wrists with a splint or brace at night. Physical therapy is another potential conservative means of treatment. If conservative measures are not effective, an orthopedic surgeon may perform a carpal tunnel release in order to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. 

Prolonged pressure on the median nerve can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage. Therefore, doctors recommend that those experiencing hand and wrist symptoms of numbness or weakness seek medical care as soon as possible.

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