Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition wherein the median nerve is pinched, and hand movement is restricted. The median nerve is located in the hand and runs all the way up to the forearm. The sensations that the thumb and forefinger experiences are controlled by the median nerve. This nerve also controls the movement of the fingers, to a certain degree. The median nerve is encased by the carpal tunnel, which is made up of tendons and muscles. When these tendons and muscles are irritated and become swollen, the median nerve gets pinched, affecting the proper function of the hand.
Carpal tunnel syndrome does not happen overnight. In fact, it is a slow process that occurs over a period of time. In the beginning, a person who may be developing carpal tunnel syndrome will experience a sensation of having a swollen arm or hand, even if there is no apparent swelling. A sensation akin to burning, itching, or tingling may also be felt. As the condition progresses, the movement of fingers may progressively become restricted, and the pain can also become worse.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome? The main cause is the carpal tunnel becoming narrower. This reduction in the size of the carpal tunnel can be due to an injury such as a sprain or a fracture. Most often, though, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive stress on the wrist. People who spend lots of time on the computer are particularly prone to carpal tunnel syndrome (although this is debatable).