Usually, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome start with a dull pain in the wrist that may gradually become more intense and may spread to the forearms or hands. Other symptoms include numbness, tingling, or burning sensations. Symptoms most often affect the thumb, index finger, and middle finger of one or both hands. Eventually, hand and wrist muscles may weaken.
A Answers (7)
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Mild carpal tunnel symptoms most often affect the hand and sometimes the forearm, but they can spread up to the shoulder. Symptoms include:
- 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 "falling asleep."
- 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 strength.)
- 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).
Symptoms 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.
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Numbness: Individuals will usually first experience a loss of sensation in their fingers as they become numb. This symptom usually occurs while driving a car or holding something such as a phone or newspaper. These symptoms may impair an individual's daily activities.
Pain: Individuals may experience pain traveling from the wrist up to the arm and extending into the palm or fingers. This sensation may feel similar to an electric-like shock.Weakness: As symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome progress, patients may experience clumsiness or weakness in their hands making it difficult to hold or grasp small objects. Everyday activities such as buttoning a shirt may become difficult. Muscles in the palm of the hand may become visibly wasted (visible loss of muscle size and shape changes).
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Rachel Rohde, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered
The most common symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling in the thumb, index, long, and ring fingers. Night symptoms are common because we often sleep with our wrists curled (or "flexed"), which compresses the nerve more. You might feel symptoms while driving, reading a newspaper, or holding a telephone, or during gripping activities. Some people actually start dropping objects or feeling clumsy with their hands.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the hand—particularly in the palm and thumb, and the index and middle fingers. In more significant cases, the hand may feel cold.
(This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program.)
Riverside Health System answered
Typically, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) begins slowly with feelings of burning, tingling, and numbness in the wrist and hand. The areas most affected are the thumb, index and middle fingers. At first, symptoms may happen more often at night. Many CTS sufferers do not make the connection between a daytime activity that might be causing the CTS and the delayed symptoms. Also, many people sleep with their wrist bent, which may cause more pain and symptoms at night. As CTS gets worse, the tingling may be felt during the daytime too, along with pain moving from the wrist to your arm or down to your fingers. Pain is usually felt more on the palm side of the hand.
Another symptom of CTS is weakness of the hands that gets worse over time. Some people with CTS find it difficult to grasp an object, make a fist, or hold onto something small. The fingers may even feel like they are swollen even though they are not. Over time, this feeling will usually happen more often.
If left untreated, those with CTS can have a loss of feeling in some fingers and permanent weakness of the thumb. Thumb muscles can actually waste away over time. Eventually, CTS sufferers may have trouble telling the difference between hot and cold temperatures by touch.
This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.
Debra Fulghum Bruce PhD, Healthcare, answeredThe symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain and tingling or numbness in the thumb and next three fingers, with the exception of the little finger. You may also feel swelling in your fingers. Sometimes there may be pain that travels from the hand up the arm, possibly to the elbow.
The pain, numbness, and tingling usually worsen at night and while driving or holding the telephone. Some claim the symptoms increase when the hand is warm and decrease when it is cool. You may even wake up with your hand(s) asleep and have to shake it to try to regain feeling.
As carpal tunnel syndrome progresses, your hand may become noticeably weaker so that daily activities such as opening a jar or grasping your hairbrush may be difficult. You may drop items easily and think you’re just plain clumsy—when, in fact, the CTS has weakened your grip.