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The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in your wrist created by your wrist bones on three sides and by a ligament on the palm side of your wrist. The main nerve that supplies your hand—called the median nerve—along with nine tendons that bend your fingers travel through the carpal tunnel. If this passageway somehow becomes restricted, pressure is placed on the median nerve, producing numbness, tingling, pain and, in more severe cases, hand weakness. Most commonly, what causes pressure on the median nerve is swelling of the synovium surrounding the tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel. Synovium is a lubricating membrane that is found in joints and around tendons.
Women are more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), usually during their middle-age years (45 to 55 years). People who perform certain repetitive forceful movements with their hands and wrists are more likely to develop CTS, as are people with certain diseases.
With early diagnosis and proper treatment, the pain and numbness can be relieved and normal use of the hands and wrists can be restored. If left untreated, CTS can result in permanent nerve damage and hand muscle wasting.