image of woman with wrist pain

You've probably heard about it on the news, or may even know someone suffering from it, but do you really know what carpal tunnel syndrome is, or its cause?

Do you work with your hands a lot, or perform a repetitive task at your job or when you’re engaging in your favorite hobby? If you’re starting to feel pain or numbness in the thumb and first three fingers of one (or both) of your hands, you may very well be experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s very real, affects over 3 million people annually in the United States, and leads to thousands of lost workdays every year.

Some Answers About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the first things many people notice is a tingling, numbness, burning, or an itchy feeling in their hand. The name carpal tunnel syndrome stems from a small channel through the complex bone structure of your wrist. That “tunnel” provides a path to your hand and fingers for tendons and, more specifically, the median nerve. Anything that creates pressure on that nerve, be it an old or recent injury, arthritis, diabetes, or even simple genetic factors such as a smaller than normal tunnel can trigger numbness or discomfort in the associated hand.

Adults, and females in particular, are more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome, and it will often show up first in your dominant hand. People who work in an assembly line-like job seem to be especially prone, though there are conflicting theories as to exactly why that is the case. Some researchers theorize that the repetitive movements can play a role in the development of the condition, but that other facts such as diet, overall health, and genetics could also contribute.

There are a number of ways to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, so if you feel like you may be showing the signs and symptoms of it, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you catch it early enough, you have a good chance of avoiding surgery as your best hope of correcting it and alleviating your pain.