Carpal tunnel syndrome, often referred to as just carpal tunnel, is a condition that most typically results in numbness and tingling in the hands. It can range from being a minor inconvenience to a disabling condition, depending on its cause, persistence, and the particular manifestation of the condition in a particular individual.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway bound by ligaments and bones at the base of the hand, which houses the median nerve and tendons that control movement of the fingers. When this tunnel swells due to inflammation or some other factor, the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, can become compressed, causing numbness, tingling, pain, and eventually hand weakness. These are the hallmark symptoms of carpal tunnel. The dominant hand is usually affected first and produces the most severe pain.
Various factors can contribute to carpal tunnel, including anatomy of your wrist, underlying conditions or disease, and possibly personal patterns of hand use.
The good news is that, for most people who develop carpal tunnel, proper treatment can very often relieve the tingling and numbness and restore wrist and hand function back to normal.