Carpal tunnel symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition with a multitude of causes; contrary to what you might think, it’s not just the result of sitting at the keyboard for hours. The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow passageway located on the palm-side of the wrist; its goal is to protect the main nerve in the hand and nine tendons that bend the fingers. Ultimately, pressure placed on this nerve causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which will be discussed momentarily. There is successful treatment available for this condition.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

If you experience symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is important to contact a doctor or physician before any permanent nerve or muscle damage can occur. This damage will happen if the problem is left untreated; it ought to be uncomfortable enough that you want it to get fixed. The first symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is usually a vague aching in the wrist that extends to the hand and/or forearm. Other common symptoms include:

  • Tingling or numbness. This is evident in the fingers or hand, particularly in all fingers except the pinky (littlest) finger. The odd sensation occurs upon waking, or while holding a steering wheel, phone, or newspaper (because of the way those things are commonly held). In the beginning, it’s just like trying to get rid of a foot falling asleep: shaking it out. However, as time goes by and the condition progresses, the numbness can become constant.
  • Pain. Pain can radiate or extend from the wrist up the arm to the shoulder or down into the palm and fingers. After a lot of forceful or repetitive use of these areas, the pain is more noticeable. Also, the pain is present most often on the palm side of the forearm.
  • Weakness. An individual affected by carpal tunnel syndrome may begin to feel weakness in the hands and have the tendency to drop objects that wouldn’t normally be dropped.


Treatment varies per individual since everyone experiences a different degree of carpal tunnel syndrome. If the symptoms are only mild, taking frequent breaks to rest the hands or applying a cold pack can reduce the occasional swelling. In addition, there are non-surgical and surgical options.


There are different non-surgical options to treat carpal tunnel syndrome; they will not help everyone. A technique called wrist-splinting (a splint holding the wrist) can be used by wearing the splint at night to prevent nighttime symptoms; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help relieve the pain caused by carpal tunnel; and corticosteroids can be injected into your carpal tunnel to relieve the pain and symptoms.


When the pain, numbness, or other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome have lasted for more than 6 months, surgery should probably be the next step (as per the advice of your doctor). During the surgery, the doctor will cut the ligament pressing on the nerve. The surgery doesn’t help everyone, but more people than not are extremely satisfied with the results. Keep in mind that you will be sore and probably have a weak wrist after the surgery, but that should be only temporary.

Other techniques

There are alternative medicine techniques that some people may find useful in alleviating the symptoms of carpal tunnel. Yoga or other relaxation methods can relieve chronic pain of muscles and joints in some. Acupuncture or chiropractic therapy, while they don’t have any proven effectiveness, may be used by others. Regardless of the alternative treatment you choose, if you do choose one, you should talk with your doctor about it first and get his or her professional opinion on the topic.

Last updated on Nov 20th, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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