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What is the Carpal Tunnel?

What is the Carpal Tunnel?

Your hand and wrist are made up of many different structures that help you move correctly and perform daily activities. There’s also a large nerve that runs down your arm into your hand called the median nerve. When it becomes compressed, this is the nerve that’s responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome.

At the Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico in Roswell, New Mexico, our team specializes in a number of different conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Our orthopedic specialist, Dr. Omar Osmani, helps you get pain relief when your carpal tunnel and median nerve are bothering you.

Understanding the carpal tunnel

Your hand and wrist contain many different bones, tendons, and ligaments — all of which allow you to do activities like typing and writing. Each one of these structures has its own function, but they all work together to form movement.

Another very important part of your hand and wrist is your median nerve. This nerve originates from a nerve root in your neck and descends down your arm into your hand. The median nerve enables feeling in your ring, middle, and index fingers, along with your thumb.

The median nerve passes through your carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway that’s located in your wrist. The carpal tunnel is formed by your carpal bones, which make up the sides and the floor of the tunnel. 

On top of the carpal tunnel lies the transverse carpal ligament, which is a thick band of tissue. The carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament are very rigid boundaries, meaning your carpal tunnel isn’t able to expand or increase its size.

Your flexor tendons also pass through your carpal tunnel. There are nine of these tendons, and they allow your fingers and thumb to move and bend. Clearly, this narrow space is filled up by your median nerve and these tendons.

Carpal tunnel syndrome — what is it?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that affects your hands. This condition is caused by a narrowing of the carpal tunnel or swelling of the flexor tendons. Either of these issues put added pressure on your median nerve, which causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

So what causes your carpal tunnel to narrow? There are a number of different risk factors that predispose you to carpal tunnel syndrome, and they include:

There’s also a genetic factor to carpal tunnel syndrome. You may be born with a smaller than normal carpal tunnel, which puts you at risk for developing this condition. 

No matter what’s causing problems in your carpal tunnel, it’s important that you know what the signs are so you can get treatment as soon as possible. 

Symptoms to watch for

Most of the time, the symptoms of carpal tunnel begin slowly and develop over time. You might not even know that you’ve been straining your wrists until the symptoms become worse. This is because your symptoms may come and go for a while before they get worse.

Carpal tunnel symptoms are often worse at night, because of your wrist positions as you sleep. The pain or numbness may be enough to wake you up at night. However, you may experience other symptoms as well, including:

You may also notice that you frequently drop items because your grip strength is weakened. Buttoning up your shirt or performing fine finger movements may also be very difficult.

While carpal tunnel is painful and seems hopeless, Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico  offers plenty of treatments that deliver relief.

If you need treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t hesitate to call the Spine and Orthopedic Center of New Mexico team at 575-623-9101 or book an appointment online today.

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