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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the bane of every computer user:  it is a syndrome of hand numbness or tingling, weakness, loss of grip strength, hand pain, and the sense of the hands "falling asleep" upon waking.  Pain can even extend from the hands to the forearm, arm, shoulder, back and neck.  This problem is often attributed to repetitive finger use--such as with typing--but it is not always associated with over use.  Carpal tunnel syndrome comes from swelling in the narrow semicircle of wrist bones that results in a pinched nerve [the median nerve].

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is much more common in women than men and unfortunately, it is often misdiagnosed.  Delayed therapy may produce more serious damage.  While there are many devices that have been touted to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, therapy is usually directed towards rest and reducing the swelling.  The definitive treatment, however, is surgery.  The good news is that this surgery can often be performed endoscopically, as an outpatient, with return to full activities a week later. 

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Created: 8/10/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
Reviewed: 6/30/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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