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What is carpal tunnel?

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Quick Answer

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes tingling, numbness and other symptoms in the arm and hand. The cause is a pinched nerve in the wrist, according to Mayo Clinic.

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What is carpal tunnel?
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Full Answer

The carpal tunnel itself is a skinny passage that runs along the palm side of the wrist. The purpose of the tunnel is to shield one of the main nerves that collects to the hand, as well as the nine tendons that allow the fingers to bend. When compression strikes the nerve, the patient feels tingling, numbness and later weakness in the hand, as stated by Mayo Clinic.

Tingling and numbness in the hand can have several causes, but one of the signs that carpal tunnel syndrome is the culprit is the absence of any discomfort in the little finger. The thumb, index, middle and ring fingers may all be numb or tingle, but the little finger should not feel anything. The feeling often sets in when the patient is holding something that requires curving the fingers, such as a steering wheel, a telephone or while typing on a keyboard. Sometimes the numbness strikes when the patient is sleeping, and it is aggravating enough to wake him up. When these symptoms become persistent, it is time to seek medical attention, according to Mayo Clinic.

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