Carpal tunnel syndrome

It is a neuropathy due to compression of the median nerve (the one dedicated to the innervation of the hand) at the wrist.

What is that

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neuropathy due to compression of the median nerve (the one dedicated to the innervation of the hand) at the wrist, i.e. its passage in the so-called carpal canal.

The disorder affects the wrist and some fingers of the hand and mainly involves pain, tingling and lack of strength. The fingers affected by the syndrome can be the thumb, index, middle and to a lesser extent the ring finger, because their sensitivity and ability to move are linked to the median nerve.


Nerve compression is due to lack of sufficient space in the carpal canal. The causes can be both an increase in the volume of the structures contained in the canal (swelling, inflammation) and a narrowing of the canal following, for example, trauma or fractures.

Among the conditions that can favor the reduction of space in the carpal canal there are diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis , pregnancy and menopause due to the fluid retention (swelling) that they involve and some work situations that involve repetitive flexion and extension movements wrist or the continuous use of vibrating tools that cause inflammation.

Common symptoms

The most common symptoms are pain in the wrist, tingling of the first three fingers and sometimes of the ring finger, difficulty in moving the same fingers, numbness and reduced sensitivity of the fingertips.

In advanced forms, the set of symptoms causes difficulty in opposing the thumb to the other fingers and a loss of strength that lead to the inability to firmly grasp or hold objects.


When carpal tunnel syndrome is left untreated, the symptoms tend to worsen over time and the damage to the median nerve can become permanent.

The cure

In mild and/or transient cases, such as during pregnancy, therapies can be used that relieve the symptoms without intervening on the cause; these are ultrasounds, iontophoresis, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) and braces that limit wrist movements.

The therapy that intervenes directly on the compression of the nerve is instead surgical: the intervention involves the incision of the transverse carpal ligament, i.e. the tissue that constitutes the “roof” of the carpal tunnel, to widen the canal and provide more space for the median nerve . It is a short-term intervention, generally performed in day-hospital, and decisive in most cases.

When to see your doctor

Early diagnosis allows you to choose the most suitable therapy and avoid both the continuation of very annoying symptoms and any permanent damage; it is therefore advisable to consult a doctor immediately if you feel even slight but persistent tingling or numbness.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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