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Illnesses
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome



Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.45

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    arthritis, carpal, controversy, cortisone, endoscopic, helping, ibuprofen, inflammation, ligament, median, mini, orthopedic, pinky, pregnancy, preventive, racquetball
     content words:    New York City, United States


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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Have you ever heard of carpal tunnel syndrome? It sounds like a traffic jam in New York City, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Instead, it refers to the symptoms that result from problems with the tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist.
 
2     In carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, this tunnel has narrowed and pinches a nerve. Under the skin at the wrist, there are nine tendons and one nerve which pass through the tunnel. The wrist bones form the bottom and the sides. The top is covered by ligament. What jobs do all these parts have? The tendons connect muscles to bones, helping a person to use his or her hand and bend fingers as well. The nerve through this area is called the median nerve.
 
3     This area is very tight. If there's swelling in the area, the median nerve gets pinched. This causes numbness and tingling in a person's hand, particularly in the thumb and first three fingers.
 
4     So what causes this carpal tunnel to narrow? Injuries, such as breaks or sprains, or arthritis can. Pregnancy, diabetes, being overweight, or thyroid disorders may cause symptoms, as well. Finally, repetitive motions, doing the same thing over and over, may be to blame. Studies associate these factors to CTS, but don't prove they cause it.
 
5     What are the symptoms of CTS? Tingling and numbness are the main symptom. Some people claim it feels like pins and needles, except not in the pinky. Pain and coldness are common complaints as well. These symptoms often awake the person at night. In addition, the person may drop objects. The individual may feel these things when doing something like holding a book for reading. If a person experiences weakness when wringing out a cloth, that's considered a classic symptom of CTS.

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