Carpal Tunnel

by Cassandra DenHartog PTA, LMT

Carpal tunnel is a condition where structures of the carpal tunnel put pressure on the nerves. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. The median nerve and flexor tendons that bend the fingers and thumb run through this structure.

Tingling, pain, numbness, and burning can all be felt when pressure is put on the median nerve. This can vary in severity from mild discomfort to fiery pain and total loss of function. So how does this happen? Usually it’s caused from inflammation and irritation in that area. The carpal tunnel is small, so it does not take a lot of irritation to start putting pressure on the median nerve. Every time you grip something, use your thumb, or bend the wrist you are moving those flexor tendons. Now imagine the fan belt, or any belt for that matter, in your car. It’s made to move, constantly. But it can fray and sometimes wear down and become damaged if it’s been used a long time. The same goes for the flexor tendons. Overuse often cause irritation, inflammation, and sometimes damage can occur. When this happens, increased pressure is put on the median nerve causing the symptoms of carpal tunnel.

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