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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you’re constantly working on a desk and have had an odd tingling and numbing sensation in your hand and wrist for some time, there’s a real possibility that you have developed carpal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome is an irritation of the median nerve in your wrist, which travels down your forearm and enters the hand after passing through the wrist tunnel (also known as carpal tunnel) located in the central part of your wrist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel, rather than an inherent problem with the median nerve itself. These factors can sometimes include the frequent use of vibrating hand tools, high levels of work stress, fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause, or the development of a cyst or tumour.

So how do you spot the early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome? Keep a mindful eye for gradual symptoms like frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of your hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Symptoms often first appear in one or both hands during nighttime since most people sleep with flexed wrists and as such, a person with carpal tunnel syndrome might wake up feeling the need to ‘shake out’ the discomfort in the hand or wrist. If left unchecked, symptoms may lead to decreased grip strength, making it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks! If you experience any of these aforementioned symptoms, be sure to contact your medical provider for advice.