Nov 26, 2013

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Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Carpal Tunnel SymptomsCarpal tunnel is a painful progressive condition that is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist area. The median nerve is one that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand and when squeezed or pressed can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Sensations in the palm of the hand and fingers are controlled by the median nerve, which allows these to move. The thickening of irritated tendons or other types of swelling in the carpal tunnel may result in pain, weakness, or even numbness in the hand and wrist. This too can radiate up into the arm causing unwanted pain and sensations.

Early detection and treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is very important. But how do you know that you have carpal tunnel symptoms and not something else? Early signs can be subtle and easily mistaken for other issues, if you are experiencing any of the following, you might be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

  • Hand and fingers become numb – Generally, this is the first sign of carpal tunnel. Tingling is a common symptom, especially when the hand and fingers are at rest or while one is sleeping. The numbing of the hand and fingers usually wakes individuals up frequently during the night, but most do not realize this is a symptom.
  • Hand pain and or wrist pain
  • Pain radiating up into the forearm
  • Hands turn cold, but forearms are warm
  • Loss of feeling in fingers and thumb
  • Loss of fine motor skills in the hands – Are you clumsier than usual? Individuals who have carpal tunnel syndrome tend to drop objects such as forks, glasses, pens, and so on.
  • Weakness in the hand and wrist – Loss of hand muscles and strength tends to occur.
  • Poor circulation
  • Aching in shoulders and neck
  • High blood pressure and poor health from chronic sleep loss
  • Inability to perform daily tasks – Such as tying shoes, buttoning buttons, applying make-up and turning a key.

These carpal tunnel symptoms start gradually, with frequent tingling and numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers. The symptoms often will appear in one or both hands during the night. Some individuals feel the need to wake up from sleep to “shake out” the hand or wrist. As symptoms progress, people might feel the tingling and numbness onset during the daytime. But with early diagnosis, detection and treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome can be reversed, even the worst of symptoms. Using a wrist brace, such as the aPallo wrist brace system, can help to alleviate these signs and symptoms during the day and night. By supporting the wrist properly, pain can be reduced and discomfort tamed.

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  • Stephanie Schneider

    Thanks for the roundup of symptoms. Carpal tunnel education is very important. A lot of people only think this can affect the elderly, but carpal tunnel can affect all ages. This is especially true where more and more people have jobs where they type all day. I didn’t know that early detection and treatment can reverse the symptoms. It sounds like a wrist brace would be a great idea for anyone experiencing the symptoms you listed.

    • Jerry

      I agree, Stephanie. This is affecting younger generations these days. Especially with all the typing and texting. I mentioned in another post that it would be very interesting to see a study telling if there has been an increase in the number of diagnosed carpal tunnel cases in the last three years. My bet is that there has!

    • Stephanie Schneider

      That is interesting to hear! There probably is. This is not just our grandparent’s condition anymore. I work an office job, and I am typing all day. Sometimes my wrists hurt. I broke one in the past, which I think might have something to do with it. I currently do yoga, which helps me.

    • Rachel B

      I agree, Stephanie! I think workplaces should post these symptoms somewhere on their wall or maybe in a break room. That way the employees know that these are the warning signs indicative of a larger issue, but that they can be reversed with early detection. The epallo brace is a nice option.

  • Jerry

    This is a very helpful post. Since the early signs can be easily mistaken for other issues, it is nice to see a list of all the symptoms. I have experienced some of these symptoms and wrap my wrist sometimes to alleviate pain. I will look into the ePallo wrist.

  • Rachel B

    This is a very informative post. I agree that people who probably have a number of these symptoms don’t realize that they are early signs of carpal tunnel! Maybe you could try sharing this post with employers who have a lot of repetitive motion in their line of work to share for the safety of the employees.

    • Rebecca

      That is very true that many carpal tunnel syndrome wrist injuries could have been avoided if the symptoms were caught earlier. Since it is often easy to misinterpret the signs as other possible problems it is important to take preventative measures. Especially if you are experiencing wrist pain, a wrist brace is a good place to start to put the pain at ease and prevent escalation of the problem.

    • Chell

      This would be great to share with employers. I don’t think many employers worry about the health of the wrists of their employees.

  • Joy

    I have not been diagnosed with the condition, but because of my frequent typing I do experience some of the symptoms you listed above on a regular basis. Though I may not have the condition, I can see that my persistent typing is leading me down a path where I could have it one day. I need to be more consistent with the measures I take to alleviate pain (i.e. exercise, stretches, etc) in order to see long-lasting improvements rather than just taking those steps when in unbearable pain.

    • T.J.

      I am the same as you. My flares ups may only happen once or maybe twice a year at the most. But man, does it ever hurt when it does flare up. The use of my hand is almost nothing when it gets really bad. I should look into some ways to help minimize the severity of my flareups when they do occur.

  • Reese

    I just watched some of the educational videos on the “Education” page of this site. Dr. Palo does a great job explaining why these symptoms develop — and the graphics that go along with the videos are great for those who are visual learners. Since these symptoms can occur with other problems, it is interesting to me to see how the diagnosis of CTS is made.

  • Chell

    This is a great overview that goes along very well with the educational videos.

  • Michele

    Well written, this makes carpal tunnel very easy to understand.

  • Julia

    I know this wasn’t meant for me to self diagnose myself, but looking at all the carpal tunnel symptoms, it really does sound like I have it! My fingers are always cold, hence poor circulation, and my hands and fingers are always going numb! Besides just that, I have a very common occurrence of pain in my hand and wrist. If this isn’t carpal tunnel, I don’t know what else it could be. I’m definitely making an appointment with me doctor!

  • Danny

    My carpal tunnel symptoms only flare up occasionally- thankfully- and seem to be the worst only when I have been working on the computer for a few hours without a break. If I know I will be at the computer all day I wear a brace and I have no problems at all.

  • T.J.

    I have struggled with carpal tunnel for several years now. It does not happen often but when it does, it is bad! So bad that my fingers go numb and simple movements lit pinching my fingers together or turning my wrist like I would to open ad door or turn the keys in the ignition send sharp pains through my wrists. I am glad it only flare sup once or twice a year!