What is the carpal tunnel?

David A. Cautilli, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
The carpal tunnel is an area in the wrist that everyone has. It's a space that's surrounded by bone and a ligament, and it has tendons and a nerve inside. Over time some people's tendons can become thick, and then pressure is exerted on the nerve, giving people the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, releases the pressure on the carpal tunnel, taking the pressure off of the nerve so it can recover.

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The carpal tunnel is located on the front of the wrist and is formed by the bones of the wrist and the transverse carpal ligament which crosses the wrist. A variety of anatomical structures lie within this narrow space, including the median nerve and tendons associated with flexing the wrist.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Indiana University Athletic Training Education Program)

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