Carpal tunnel syndrome

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Neurology, Orthopedics, Surgery

Clinical Definition

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression neuropathy that occurs when increased pressure of the median nerve in the proximal forearm develops. The median nerve, which extends from the forearm to the hand, provides motor and sensory function to the thumb and three of the fingers. When compression occurs, hand function can be compromised. Pressure on the nerve may develop due to several factors, such as tenosynovitis, arthritis and repetitive motion. 

In Our Own Words

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common nerve disorder that affects the fingers and hand. The carpal tunnel is an area on the palm side of the wrist and contains the median nerve. The nerve runs through the arm and forearm to the wrist, and it supplies sensation to the thumb and three of the fingers. The nerve can become pinched, which interferes with normal hand strength and creates the sensation of numbness and tingling in the thumb and index, middle and ring fingers.


Compression or pinching of the nerve can be caused by different factors, including overuse and inflammation of the sheath that surrounds the tendon and arthritis. The condition occurs three times more often in females, and middle aged individuals are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than younger people. 

Relevant Conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Occupational injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries
Side Effects
  • Numbness of the fingers
  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Hand weakness
Share this article
  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand. “What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?” Accessed August 2013.
  • American College of Rheumatology. “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” Accessed August 2013.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Carpal Tunnel Fact Sheet.” Accessed August 2013.
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