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What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a complex condition caused by swelling and pressure on nerves on the palm side of the wrist. CTS occurs less often than many people nowadays think.

Pain in the wrist is common among people doing repetitive work, however, the reason for it is usually not CTS. As with all musculoskeletal problems, a competent assessment will be able to determine the true nature of your condition.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Numbness: or reduced sensitivity in the thumb, forefinger and middle finger
  • Tingling: in the thumb, forefinger and middle finger
  • Weakness: in the muscles that cross the thumb across the palm
  • Clumsiness: with the hand such as dropping things

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome

The swelling associated with CTS is often due to another condition such as Pregnancy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypothyroidism or Diabetes. It is not very commonly associated with working or repetitive activities.

What can I do about it?

Desk Doctor Assessment

Doing the Assessment module in Desk Doctor is a good first step in ruling out CTS and starting a treatment plan for other hand and arm problems.

  • Get an assessment: Orthopedic tests will help to differentiate CTS from other hand problems.
  • Get a nerve test: A biopsy of the nerve or a Nerve Conduction test will help determine if the nerve has been damaged
  • Determine strength: There is one muscle, the 'Opponens Pollicis' that is supplied only by the median nerve and weakness here is one of the best tests for CTS. It crosses the thumb across the palm.
  • Seek help widely: A huge number of people are diagnosed with CTS because their doctors cannot differentiate it from other hand problems.
  • Get practical: Reduce swelling, avoid stressing the area and treat the cause of the swelling

More about CTS, how it develops, symptoms and treatment

Common problems often confused with CTS

Pronator Teres syndrome

The Pronator Teres is a muscle in the forearm. Tension in this muscle can pinch the median nerve and create symptoms very similar to Carpal Tunnel syndrome. The Pronator Teres turns the palm down (like when you type or use the mouse) and is very commonly tight in heavy computer users. This is easily treated by targeted exercises done on a regular basis.


A very common consequence of overuse where the tendons become inflamed. Easily treated once diagnosed but requires several weeks of total rest of the area followed by a rehabilitation plan of exercises and stretches.

Tight muscles

Treatment plan for arm and hand problems

Download Desk Doctor, do the Assessment with on-screen medical tests, and start your personal treatment plan today

Chronically tense muscles will limit flexibility and tire easily. Muscle hypertension also creates the familiar sensation of muscle ache. Careful stretching and mild exercise of a tight muscle will effectively reduce the related symptoms.

Golfer's elbow

Golfer elbow is associated with excessive tension of a muscle called the Flexor Carpi Ulnaris, which bends the wrist in. It can also produce pain and weakness in the hand especially if the Ulnar Tunnel is affected.


Desk Doctor is new software that identifies Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and targets it accurately with a personal treatment plan. First the program guides you through on-screen medical tests. Then Desk Doctor uses its built-in reasoning to compile the optimum video-guided exercise program to reverse problems and keep you healthy. More on Desk Doctor. Download the 14-day trial now

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