Can carpal tunnel syndrome cause permanent damage?

Rachel Rohde, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

The short answer is yes. People often describe their symptoms as feeling like there is no blood supply to the hand. Although the blood supply to the hand actually is not affected, pressure on the median nerve by a ligament does limit the blood flow to the nerve. Because the blood carries nutrients (even to nerves!), if the nerve doesn't get enough supply, eventually, it might not be able to recover. This can lead to permanent loss of sensation/numbness and weakness of the muscles that control the thumb; these together lead to dropping things and not being able to perform fine tasks like fastening buttons, writing, and grooming.

Sometimes, if the condition is severe or if it's left untreated, nerve and muscle damage in the hands can be permanent. The most common permanent problems are weakened hand muscles and chronic pain. Fortunately, most people's carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Continue Learning about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

It's familiar to computer users and others who do repetitive motion work - that sharp, shooting hand pain that signals carpal tunnel syndrome. The pain is caused by compressed nerves and irritated tendons. While rest and pain medi...

cations can help bring relief, surgery is sometimes necessary.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.