Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Mild carpal tunnel symptoms most often affect the hand and
sometimes the forearm, but they can spread up to the shoulder. Symptoms
- Numbness or pain in your hand, forearm, or
wrist that awakens you at night. (Shaking or moving your fingers may ease this
numbness and pain.)
- Occasional tingling, numbness,
"pins-and-needles" sensation, or pain. The feeling is similar to your hand
- Numbness or pain that gets worse while you are
using your hand or wrist. You are most likely to feel it when you grip an object with your hand or
bend (flex) your wrist.
- Occasional aching pain in your
forearm between your elbow and wrist.
- Stiffness in your fingers when you get up in the morning.
With moderate or severe carpal tunnel symptoms, you may
have numbness or reduced strength and grip in your fingers, thumb, or hand. It
may be hard to:
- Do simple hand movements, such as brushing your
hair or holding a fork. You may accidentally drop objects.
- Pinch an
object between your thumb and first finger. (This is called loss of pinch
- Use your thumb while doing simple tasks such as opening
a jar or using a screwdriver. With long-term carpal tunnel syndrome, the
thumb muscles can get smaller and weaker (atrophy).
most often occur in parts of the hand supplied by the
median nerve: the thumb, the index finger, the middle finger,
and half of the ring finger. The median nerve doesn't affect your little finger. So if your little finger is affected, you may not have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms often occur in both hands, but they are usually worse in one hand
than the other. You may first notice symptoms at night. People with carpal
tunnel syndrome can usually fall asleep, but pain or numbness may wake them up.
Not all pain in the wrist or hand is caused by carpal
tunnel syndrome. There are many
other conditions with similar symptoms, such as:
- An injury to the muscles,
ligaments, tendons, or bones.
- Nerve problems in the fingers,
elbow, or neck.
- Arthritis in
the thumb joint or wrist.
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery
October 2, 2012
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