Vocabulary of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Video

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  • 0:01 Repetitive Work
  • 0:20 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • 2:37 Treatments
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will cover important vocabulary related to carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as define the word itself. You'll learn the definitions of carpus, carpal bones, flexor retinaculum, and carpal tunnel release.

Repetitive Motion

Writers, computer users, and those simply doing a lot of repetitive work with their hands and wrists have commonly been thought of as being predisposed to developing a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. Is this true? Well, this lesson will tell you, and it will define key vocabulary related to this condition.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder of the wrist and hand ultimately caused by the compression of the median nerve. The word 'carpal' comes from carpus, which means the wrist. I remember that carpus means wrist by imagining people fishing for carp with their hands and then those fish swallowing the person's arm up to their wrist.

It's a common misconception that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motions of the wrist. That might be a contributory factor in some instances and even that is debatable. What we know is that carpal tunnel syndrome seems to stem from a combination of factors, including genetics, medical problems, a person's occupation, and more.

So, what happens here? The key to understanding carpal tunnel syndrome is understanding what the carpal tunnel is! The carpal tunnel is the space between the carpal bones, the bones of the wrist, and the flexor retinaculum of the hand. The flexor retinaculum is a very strong ligament that crosses the front of the wrist, one that is unable to stretch very well. For us, that means the carpal tunnel is surrounded on all sides by very tough walls, be they made of bone or a tough fibrous band.

You see, flexor tendons of the fingers and thumb, as well as the median nerve, pass through this tunnel. If, for any reason, the tendons inside the limited space of this tunnel begin to swell, they will compress the median nerve.

Just imagine being placed inside the rigid confines of a small space, something like a concrete chamber with really thick walls. If something like a really strong balloon were to begin to swell up in this room, you would eventually get squished.

When the median nerve is compressed by the swollen tendons or for any other reason, a person will experience pain and paresthesia, an abnormal sensation, such as the sensation of burning, prickling or tingling, namely in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Eventually, grip strength will decline and the muscles of the thumb may atrophy, or waste away.


The treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include pain-relieving drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs. So, drugs like NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen may be recommended and anti-inflammatories, like corticosteroids, may be injected into the wrist to stop the inflammation, which itself causes swelling.

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