Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Common Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Health Check Certified by Dr. Gerald Morris

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve of the carpal tunnel in the wrist. This actual tunnel is made up of bone, tendons, tissue, and the median nerve that travel into the wrist, hand, palm, and fingers to allow free movement. However, if the tunnel swells, pressure and inflammation will affect the median nerve, causing severe pain and tingling sensations or numbness.

This nerve-related disorder plagues three times more adult women than men, particularly those who type for long periods of time or perform assembly line work. The syndrome itself can be temporary, but it’s oftentimes the result of repetitive stress that persists and gradually worsens.

Here are eight telling symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome…

1. Numbness and Pain

The prime symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness or tingling sensations in the wrist, hand, and fingers. The condition affects the median nerve which controls the thumb, index, middle, and fourth fingers of each hand. These sensations may be described as similar to “pins and needles.”

2. Painful Burning Sensations

As the condition worsens, the numbness may be overcome by what other patients describe as shooting pains or burning and cramping of the forearm, wrist, hand, and/or fingers. This pain can come on suddenly and shoot up your hand, wrist, and/or forearm.

3. Hand Cramping

Hand cramps, which can affect the palm, fingers, wrist, and even move up the forearm, are both irritating and extremely painful. The best way to restore normal sensation is to shake and massage the fingers, palm, and/or wrist to ease the cramps.

4. Muscle Weakness

As carpal tunnel syndrome progresses and inflammation worsens, you may find that your grip strength is affected, meaning you may not be able to grip objects with strength, or you may lose your grip on objects and actually drop them accidentally from your hand.

5. Disrupted Sleep

Carpal tunnel syndrome is exacerbated during sleep. Really, it’s the position in which you sleep (i.e., especially if you flex your wrists when sleeping). This prone position also encourages fluid accumulation in the wrists and hands that won’t drain when you’re lying flat, which also encourages cramps and numbness.

6. Muscle Wasting

Another damaging side effect of carpal tunnel syndrome in its later stages is muscle wasting (or atrophy). You will first notice this muscle wasting in the affected hand, particularly in the muscles situated under the thumb where it attaches to the palm, which is known medically as the thenar eminence.

7. Morning Muscle Stiffness

It’s extremely common for individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome to wake up in the morning with stiff wrists, hands, and fingers. You will likely need to shake out or massage your hand, wrist, and/or fingers to restore normal feeling and to soothe tingling and numbness.

8. Impaired Temperature Readings

A large majority of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome complain that the condition damages their response to extremes in temperature. For instance, many people with carpal tunnel syndrome can’t distinguish between hot and cold temperatures when touching an object or water with their fingers or the back of their hand, which is due to numbness caused by damage to the median nerve.

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Dr. Gerald Morris

Gerald Morris, MD is a physician (Family Medicine/Internal Medicine) with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions. Hence, his contribution to articles on Activebeat.

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