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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): Symptoms and Prevention

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According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ʺEvidence suggests that about three percent of women and two percent of men will be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) during their lifetime, with peak prevalence in women older than 55.ʺ A majority of the people who are afflicted with CTS are between the ages of 30-60.

The National Institutes of Health states that ʺwomen are three times more likely than men to have carpal tunnel syndrome.ʺ

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states, CTS (also known as repetitive stress injuries or carpal tunnel release) occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve. This nerve stretches from forearm to the palm of your hand.

CTS has no specific known cause. However, one risk factor may be hormonal changes.

The University of Maryland Medical Center states, ʺCTS has been shown to increase after delivering a baby and menopause.ʺ Also certain types of workers, who use repetitive motion and tasks, are at risk.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, symptoms of CTS may include the following:

• Weakness in one or both hands
• Pain in wrist or hand in one or both hands
• Numbness or tingling in the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands
• Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags (a common complaint)
• Numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand
• Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
• Pain extending to the elbow
• Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb (in advanced or long-term cases)

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends the following to prevent CTS:

• If you use a keyboard, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard and you don't have to flex your wrists to type
• Don't rest your wrists on hard surfaces for long periods of time
• Don't sit or stand in the same position all day
• Take regular breaks from repeated hand movements to give your hands and wrists time to rest
• Make sure the tools you use aren't too big for your hands
• Switch hands during work tasks
• Don't work with your arms too close or too far from your body
• If you do the same tasks over and over with your hands, try not to bend, extend or twist your hands for long periods of time
• Lose weight if you're overweight

Here are some additional at-home tips you can try to temporary relieve pain of CTS:

• Try an inexpensive over-the-counter sprint for your wrist (you can also wear the splint at night)
• Apply ice to the affected area (20 minutes on - 20 minutes off - 20 minutes on)
• Take ibuprofen to reduce the swelling
• When you lie down, prop up your arms with pillows
• Try stretching exercises for the affected area
• Purchase an ergonomic keyboard and/or mouse for your computer

If your pain is medium to severe, contact your doctor immediately.

Other treatments for CTS include surgery and corticosteroid injections.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/bone/023.printerview.html

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: MedlinePlus. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/carpaltunnelsyndrome.html

Carpal tunnel syndrome - PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001469/

Carpal tunnel syndrome - Risk Factors. University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved October 6, 2011, from

Reviewed October 6, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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