What Are The Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand. The carpal tunnel, which is a passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand, houses this nerve and the tendons that allow the fingers to bend. When the carpal tunnel becomes irritated and swells, it can compress the median nerve. This is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel can sometimes be confused with wrist tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation or swelling of the tissues (tendons) connecting muscle to bone in the wrist while carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of a nerve.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start slowly. The following are common symptoms associated with this condition:
- Numbness or tingling on the palm side of the fingers throughout the day (thumb, index and middle fingers)
- Fingers may feel weak or swollen
- Tingling sensations while doing certain activities, including holding a phone, driving or holding a book
- Weakness of the hands when attempting to grasp small objects
- In severe cases, some people lose feeling in their hands and can’t tell the difference between hot or cold by touch, which can lead to burns.
- Feeling the need to shake out the hand. This feeling may occur especially at night or in the morning when you first awaken.
Typically, the dominant hand is usually affected first and will present more severe symptoms.
Behaviors That Can Lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive motion of the hand can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Examples of repetitive motion include the following:
- Scrolling or texting on your smartphone for long periods of time
- Clicking a computer mouse for a long time
- Using a computer while maintaining poor posture
- Playing computer games for a long time
- Performing certain tasks including assembly line work, sewing, cleaning and data entry
Ways to Avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Take frequent breaks and stretch your hands and fingers
- Perform conditioning and stretching exercises before and after activities
- Use an ergonomic mouse and keyboard
- Make sure your keyboard is at the level of your elbows
- Wear braces to keep your wrists in a neutral position while sleeping
- Keep wrists straight when using tools
- Avoid bending and extending your wrists constantly
If you’re experiencing pain, it is recommended that you see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Make a Sports Medicine or Orthopedics appointment at Ochsner Health.