What Are the Five Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Reviewed on 10/18/2021

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include numbness/tingling/burning/pain, shock-like sensations, pain and tingling, hand weakness and clumsiness, and dropping things.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include numbness/tingling/burning/pain, shock-like sensations, pain and tingling, hand weakness and clumsiness, and dropping things.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist.

The compression may cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the fingers, hands, and wrists, and sometimes the arms. 

What Are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms?

Five of the main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include: 

  • Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain
    • Especially in the thumb and the index, middle, and ring fingers
  • Shock-like sensations that radiate to the thumb and index, middle, and ring fingers
  • Pain and tingling that extends to the whole hand or up to the wrist and forearm toward the shoulder
  • Hand weakness and clumsiness
    • This may cause difficulty with fine movements such as buttoning clothes
  • Dropping things
    • This may be due to weakness, numbness, or a loss of awareness of where the hand is in space (proprioception)

Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may include:

  • Stiff fingers
  • Inability to make a fist
  • Fingers feel swollen even though little or no swelling is apparent
  • Itchy palms
  • Changes in hand temperature (colder or warmer)
  • Changes in skin color of the affected hand
  • Untreated, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away
  • Inability to determine between hot and cold by touch (in severe cases)

How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed with a history and physical examination, in which a doctor may tap on or press on the wrist, or ask you to hold your hands in ways that can make carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms worse.

Tests used to help diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome include: 

What Is the Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Avoiding activities that may provoke symptoms
  • Resting the hand and wrist
  • Ice 
  • Wrist splints to keep hands in a “neutral position”
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for short-term pain relief
  • Steroid shots or pills (such as prednisone) for inflammation and swelling
  • Injections of the anesthetic lidocaine
  • Yoga, to reduce pain and improve grip strength 
  • Surgery
    • Cutting the ligament that stretches across the wrist to form the tunnel

SLIDESHOW

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Surgery, and Treatment See Slideshow

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Reviewed on 10/18/2021
References
https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-the-basics?search=Carpal%20Tunnel%20Syndrome&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-etiology-and-epidemiology?search=Carpal%20Tunnel%20Syndrome&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2#H5