Have you ever had one of those days at school where you write and write and write and write and write and…well…you get the picture! By the end of the day, your hands and your wrists are aching!

On those days, you might be wishing you could type more and write less. However, did you know that typing on a computer a lot can also lead to aching wrists? It’s true!

People who type on computers, work on assembly lines or style hair — or do any type of job that involves doing the same hand movements over and over again — are at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS. This condition occurs when the “tunnel” of bones and ligaments in the wrist narrows to the point that it pinches a nerve, causing a tingly feeling or numbness in the hands.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs most often in adults over 30. Kids can get it, but it’s less common. Women also tend to get CTS more often than men.

People with CTS may have trouble typing on a computer keyboard or playing a video game. Anything that requires frequent hand or wrist movement can become more difficult or painful.

If you look at the palm of your hand, the carpal tunnel is located under the skin at your wrist. Nine tendons and the median nerve pass through this tunnel from your forearm to your hand. Repetitive movement can cause the tendons and tissues in the tunnel to become swollen, which presses on the median nerve and causes CTS.

You can develop CTS from more than just work, though. Any kind of repetitive motion can lead to CTS. Hobbies, such as playing musical instruments, and sports, like gymnastics and tennis, can also lead to CTS.

If you have CTS, a doctor may have you wear a wrist brace at night. This brace keeps your wrist from moving and keeps the carpal tunnel straight. Resting your wrist in a brace helps swollen tissues and tendons to shrink.

More severe cases of CTS may require cortisone shots to reduce inflammation or even surgery to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. Luckily, CTS is rarely a permanent injury. Most people are able to treat it effectively and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

42 Join the Discussion

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  1. Today’s wonder had lots of big words. We were a little bit confused by all of the “doctor talk”. It made several of us hurt just a little bit. We thought it was interesting, but didn’t like it as much as some of the others.

    Predictions for tomorrow… healthy foods, restaurants, buffet, chocolate, sweets, pizza, something sugary (Twinkies), farm or factories, animals fighting for food, fried chicken, making different foods, how to cook, and hamburgers.

    We worried that maybe we should watch tomorrow’s around lunch time so we won’t have to wait too long for food.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ class! We agree– today’s Wonder was filled with LOTS of new vocabulary! However, we used our context clues to help us understand the general meaning of those new words. Medicine that the doctor mentioned may take some more time to understand– we might even have to ask a doctor the next time we visit one! :)

      We are glad you shared your comment with us, and we are so happy that you visited us today! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s yummy Wonder… but waiting until lunch might not be a bad idea! We don’t like it when our stomachs are growling! :)

  2. What happens if your carpal tunnel gets too small or inflamed? Does that mean your hand is not usable? What happens if it’s not treated right away? Why are women more likely to get it?

    Our guesses for the next wonder something about food, how your stomach works, or food poisoning.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Atkinson’s Class! Carpal tunnel syndrome prevents you from using your hands like you do today. However, with the proper treatment and/or physical therapy, you can prevent inflammation in the carpal tunnel. The symptoms, such as a numb feeling in your hand, is what happens when the tunnel gets too small– it prevents the normal blood flow from circulating. We’re so proud of all your questions!

      Perhaps you can do some WONDERing and research of your own as to why women are more likely to get carpel tunnel syndrome? Hmmm…

      Thanks for WONDERing and guessing with us– have a SUPER day, Wonder Friends! :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis

    That wonder was so awesome! I never knew
    that there was such a thing of CTS. Thank you for sharing this wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Janna! We are glad you enjoyed WONDERing about a medical condition today– we sure are glad you’re here! :-)

    • Mmmmm, yum! Well, we don’t know how we feel about people eating in your face, but it sure is a GREAT guess! Thanks for using your AWESOME imaginations, Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class! :-)

  4. We are new viewers. We just started yesterday and love Wonderopolis! We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about mummies, race cars, skeletons, slime, money, exoskeletons or penguins.

    • HOORAY, we’re so happy that our new Wonder Friends from Miss Holden’s 2nd Grade Class are here today! What a fantastic Friday! :-)

      Thanks for visiting us and sharing your creative guesses for the next Wonder of the Day®! We cannot wait to find out what it will be… so we’ll see you soon! :)

    • We’re glad you learned something new today, Andrea. Not to worry, carpal tunnel is a condition that can occur after LOTS of repeated actions… which is why it usually happens to older folks! :)

    • Thanks very much, Wonder Friends Naomi, Colton and Gabe! :-) We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing with us today! Have a SUPER weekend! :-)

    • We think it is, KCP. However, we are glad that you have been WONDERing with us today– we hope you learned something new! :-)

    • What a cool way to express your art, Fiana! Hairstyling does include a lot of use of the hands and wrists, so you’ll have to take frequent breaks to prevent any issues! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :-)

  5. Hey guys! That does not sound like a fun syndrome to have! Any way gtg bye!

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us, Alyssa and Emma! We agree, CTS is not fun at all. Make sure you’re giving your hands and wrists a break from time to time… keep up the great WONDERing! :-)

  6. Sometimes I think I have symptoms sort of like that, but probably not as bad as someone with CTS. I think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about Thanksgiving dinner!! Thank you, Wonderopolis, for the wonderful Wonder of the day!!!

    • Hey there, Gavin! We’re glad you have been WONDERing with us– and we hope you’re not suffering from CTS! Make sure you give your hands and wrists a break from time to time! :-) Thanks for sharing your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, we’re so glad you’re here! :-)

  7. Wow! Today’s wonder was interesting. I type on the computer a lot, and I read a lot, and sometimes my right wrist goes numb from turning all those pages, and I do a lot of art, too. Before I read this wonder, I did not even know about carpal tunnel syndrome at all. I leared a lot! Thank you for today’s wonder! :) 😉

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Berkleigh! It sounds like you use your hands and wrists a lot! Give them a break from time to time, and have fun with your art! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us, we’re glad you’re here! :-)

  8. That meas that a lot of children could get CTS because of writing 5 times a week and including weekends for homework too. Also typing. And teachers still make us write and type a lot today.

    • It’s important to take breaks once in a while while you write and type, Yeniffer! However, you don’t have to worry about CTS, it usually happens to adults after many years of typing, writing and doing the same thing. Thanks for WONDERing! :)

    • Hi there, Chrissy, we’re glad you related to our Wonder! We hope your friend is doing okay, and he or she is taking care of those wrists! :)

    • Great question, Kayla! It is important to take lots of breaks when typing on a keyboard for a long period of time. They also make special pads for your wrists to rest on while typing. We’re glad you enjoyed learning about this Wonder with us today! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
  • How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
  • What can you do to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome?

Wonder Gallery

Carpal Tunnel SyndromeVimeo Video

Try It Out

Kids might not think they need to worry about problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, but think about how much you use your wrists every day. Whether it’s in a particular sport or simply using the many electronic devices, such as computers, smartphones and video game consoles, it’s possible for kids to develop these problems just like adults can.

Not many kids develop carpal tunnel syndrome, but it’s still a good idea to start developing good habits today that can help prevent these problems in the future. Here are a few ideas to help you:

  • Don’t overdo it! If you spend a lot of time on the computer, take frequent breaks. Get up and stretch. Go outside and play. Just do something else for a while.
  • Make sure your work area is comfortable. Use an adjustable chair, so you can make sure you’re not sitting too low or too high. Try to keep your chair, computer screen and keyboard in a straight line. If you find your arms or wrists getting tired, make some adjustments!
  • When you’re typing, keep your forearms and wrists straight. Holding your elbows at your side can help with this.
  • If you use certain things frequently, such as pens or paper clips, keep them within close reach, so you don’t have to stretch too far too often.

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Using Science NetLinks’ Skeleton interactive, students learn about the skeletal system by placing bones in the correct location on a human body.

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