This disorder is usually due to a repetitive stress, such as prolonged typing. The cause of carpel tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve, a nerve that passes through the wrist into the hand, more specifically the thumb, pointer finger, middle finger and the ring finger (on the middle finger side). Symptoms are usually increased when the wrist is extended (bent backwards) or flexed (bent downward). When the median nerve is compressed patients may feel numbness, tingling, and even weakness into the lateral hand (thumb, pointer, middle, and lateral aspect of the ring finger). This condition may mimic cervical radiculopathy (see Cervical Radiculopathy) in the fact that they may both create hand symptoms.
Carpel tunnel syndrome is usually isolated to the hand, whereas radiculopathy patients may experience symptoms over the entire arm extending into the hand. A thorough evaluation and review of symptoms by a trained clinician should isolate the area of concern. Diagnostic testing such as a MRI or a nerve conduction test may be performed to better evaluate this condition. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often misdiagnosed and sometimes surgery is performed. Performing surgery can sometimes relieve this symptom if the actual condition is entrapment of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel. If the condition is associated with other disorders and misdiagnosed the surgery will not be effective and can cause scar tissue, leading to a failed surgery.