Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Symptoms & Causes

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort in the hand and wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, responsible for feeling and movement in the thumb and fingers, is compressed within the carpal tunnel, a narrow passage in your wrist. This compression can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, and even pain radiating up your arm. Fortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome is treatable with various methods, allowing you to regain use and function in your hand.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually develop gradually. Being aware of these signs is crucial for early detection and treatment:

  • Weakness in Your Hands:

You may find it difficult to grip objects firmly, leading to frequently dropping things. This weakness often stems from a numbness in your hand or a decrease in the strength of your thumb's pinching muscles, both affected by the median nerve.

  • Pain and Numbness:

You might experience persistent pain or a 'pins and needles' sensation, particularly in your thumb, index, and middle fingers. This discomfort can be more pronounced at night and may even disrupt your sleep.

  • Tingling Sensations:

A tingling or electric shock-like feeling often occurs in the fingers and can extend up your arm. It's common to feel these sensations during activities like holding your phone.

  • Swelling in Your Fingers:

Your fingers might feel swollen, although they might not show visible signs of swelling.

  • Daytime Discomfort:

Symptoms can worsen at night, but daily activities involving your hands and wrists—like driving or typing—can also trigger or worsen these sensations.

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Causes & Risk Factors of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve, which travels from your forearm to your hand through a passage in your wrist called the carpal tunnel, is under undue pressure. This nerve is essential for feeling in your thumb and fingers and for thumb movement.

Compression or irritation in the carpal tunnel can result from various factors, including wrist injuries or conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Several risk factors might increase your likelihood of experiencing this syndrome. These include anatomical variations such as a smaller carpal tunnel, more common in women, and certain chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which can harm nerves.

Inflammatory conditions, certain medications, obesity, fluid changes during pregnancy or menopause, and even some workplace activities can also elevate your risk.

It's important to remember, though, that these factors don't directly cause carpal tunnel syndrome but can make you more susceptible to it.


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