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What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a problem that affects the wrist and hand. If you have CTS, tingling and numbness can make even simple tasks hard to do. But CTS can be treated, and your symptoms can be controlled.

Cutaway view of hand

Learning about Carpal Tunnel

The carpal tunnel is a narrow space inside the wrist that is surrounded by bone and ligament. This space lets certain tendons and a major nerve pass from the forearm into the hand. With CTS, the tendon sheaths may thicken and enlarge. This reduces the amount of space inside the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve may be compressed.

The Symptoms of CTS

Tingling and numbness are the most common symptoms of CTS. Some people also have hand pain or even a weakened grip. At first, symptoms may wake you up at night. Later, they may also occur during your daily routines. For instance, you may notice symptoms while you are driving or holding a newspaper. Your symptoms may become more severe over time.

Image of woman
Symptoms of CTS may keep you up at night.

Working with Your Doctor

Your doctor will perform an exam to learn more about your symptoms. Once your problem is diagnosed, you and your doctor can make a treatment plan. He or she may recommend wrist braces or splints, local corticosteroid injections, and/or surgery, depending on your history and the severity of your physical exam findings. If you have surgery, you are likely to go home the same day.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chamberlain, Kevin, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 8/10/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.