CTS develops over time as the median nerve is compressed by the tendon or ligament within the carpal tunnel. The simple act of bending a finger or wrist sets in motion an intricate system of muscles and tendons, each playing its crucial role. In fact, just one bend can cause a tendon to travel up to two inches.
The tendons of the hand are enclosed in sheaths, or sleeves, through which the tendons slide. The sheath’s inner wall has cells that generate a lubricant to facilitate proper and seamless tendon function; this is imperative for a tendon’s regular operation.
With the repetitive or excessive movement of the hand, the lubrication system may malfunction. It may not produce enough fluid or it may produce a fluid with poor lubricating qualities.
Failure of the lubricating system creates friction between the tendon and its sheath, causing inflammation and swelling of the tendon area. When the tendons become inflamed, they make the tunnel narrow and press down on the median nerve which is more delicate.
Over time the nerve becomes damaged by the constant pressure, resulting in numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the hand and fingers.