People who type on computers, work on assembly lines, or style hair — or do any type of job that involves doing the same hand movements over and over again — are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS. This condition occurs when the “tunnel" of bones and ligaments in the wrist narrows to the point that it pinches a nerve, causing a tingly feeling or numbness in the hands.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs most often in adults over 30. Kids can get it, but it's less common. Women also tend to get CTS more often than men.
If you look at the palm of your hand, the carpal tunnel is located under the skin at your wrist. Nine tendons and the median nerve pass through this tunnel from your forearm to your hand. Repetitive movement can cause the tendons and tissues in the tunnel to become swollen, which presses on the median nerve and causes CTS.
You can develop CTS from more than just work, though. Any kind of repetitive motion can lead to CTS. Hobbies, such as playing musical instruments, and sports, like gymnastics and tennis, can also lead to CTS.
If you have CTS, a doctor may have you wear a wrist brace at night. This brace keeps your wrist from moving and keeps the carpal tunnel straight. Resting your wrist in a brace helps swollen tissues and tendons to shrink.
More severe cases of CTS may require cortisone shots to reduce inflammation or even surgery to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. Luckily, CTS is rarely a permanent injury. Most people are able to treat it effectively and take steps to prevent it from happening again.