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The carpal tunnel is not something with carpals running through it.

It is a protective passageway of bones and ligaments, and the median nerve does run through it.

When that nerve gets pinched at the wrist, due to tightening of that tunnel, it hurts. Your fingers can get numb and tingly. Your hand can get weak, and you drop things. It can affect either or both hands.

Fluid retention and changes in fluid balance from pregnancy, thyroid problems, kidney problems, or being overweight can trigger symptoms. So can workplace factors, including vibrating tools and repetitive flexing of your wrist.

Initial treatment with wrist splints --especially at night-- is worth a try. Alternative therapies like yoga and ultrasound can help reduce pain, strengthen grip, and may promote healing. Ergonomic computer keyboards and heat pads work for some. Over the counter anti-inflammatory meds can ease pain, but won’t cure the cause. The next step is steroids – pills or injections.

The last resort: surgery.

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds those treated with higher 80 mg dose steroid injections were less likely to need surgery a year later, than those taking a lower 40 mg dose steroid injection or placebo.

For those who need it, surgery is usually successful with good outcomes. But recovery can take weeks.