Overview of Carpal Tunnel Surgery

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Do you spend your days using a computer, sorting mail, or assembling small parts? If your workplace duties put stress on your wrists, you may be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

CTS occurs when the median nerve, which travels through the wrist from the forearm to the hand, becomes squeezed. The median nerve is protected at the wrist by the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway of ligament and bone. If tendons, which also pass through the carpal tunnel, become thickened or swell, the passageway narrows, pressing on the nerve.

Although many cases of CTS appear to be tied to repetitive movements at work or leisure, researchers haven't found a firm link. Repetitive motion can cause other disorders, such as bursitis or tendonitis, but it doesn't appear to cause CTS unless a person has other risk factors, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Risk factors that may contribute to CTS include having a smaller carpal tunnel than normal; suffering a wrist sprain or fracture that causes swelling; an overactive pituitary gland; hypothyroidism; rheumatoid arthritis; repeated use of vibrating tools; stress at work; fluid in the joints caused by pregnancy or menopause; and a cyst or tumor in the carpal tunnel.

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