Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the wrist, which subsequently causes symptoms in the hand. Pressure on the median nerve, which is inside a narrow passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel, causes the nerve to malfunction. This nerve provides feeling to the thumb, index and middle fingers, and half the ring finger. It also controls several muscles in the hand, the most important of which allows the thumb to touch the little finger. Compression occurs when the tissues in the carpal tunnel swell up.
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive strain injury. Although there are many causes for carpal tunnel syndrome, by far the most common is doing repetitive motions as part of your job. Fragmentation of work to the point that one person does one task over and over has been blamed for the increase in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome in recent years. There are approximately one million new cases every year.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at:
Carpal tunnel syndrome: a practical review.
Am Fam Physician. 1994 May 1.
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