Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition affecting the hands and arms where sensations like numbness and tingling are experienced among other symptoms. The condition is triggered by excess pressure on the median nerve in the wrist and can be caused by the anatomy of the wrist, patterns of hand use and certain underlying health problems.
Compression of the affected nerve causes the numbness and tingling and a prolonged condition can cause the hand to become weakened over time. However, with timely detection and intervention most individuals who develop the carpal tunnel syndrome can regulate the associated sensations and fully restore normal wrist and hand function.
Some of the most commonly detected symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include the following:
1. Tingling or numbness
These sensations are experienced when there is undue pressure on the nerves in the hand. This is different from the tingling sensation one feels when there might be pressure on the nerves if the arm is crookedly placed under the head when asleep. That sensation only lasts for as long as the arm is crookedly placed but the “pins and needles” effect diminishes as soon as arm position is changed. Besides, the tingling or numbness experienced is usually painless.
Tingling and numbness that is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can be episodic, severe or chronic. It may the sign of impending or progressing nerve damage that can accompany other symptoms of the condition as well. While the tingling experienced can be referred to as an increase in sensation, the numbness refers to reduced sensation.
Early on in the condition, these typical symptoms are felt on the palm side of the index, middle and ring fingers while the fifth finger typically shows no symptoms. This is because a different nerve connects to the small finger. With time these sensations may radiate to the forearm or shoulder.
2. Pain that worsens at night
Pain is a distinct sensation, recognizably different to tingling and numbness. Often patients with carpal tunnel syndrome can fall asleep easily but may be awakened by severe pain in the hand, wrist or arm at night. Many of these individuals will also notice the pain being more acute at night. The pain is uncomfortable and can disrupt normal sleep patterns. Since some people sleep with their wrists curled, night time symptoms can be common and wake people up from sleep. Typically, these night time symptoms are the first to be reported to medical personnel.
During the day the same pain can also cause disruption in everyday activities. But day time symptoms will also likely include tingling and reduced feeling in the fingertips.
With time, the pain and other uncomfortable sensations can worsen progressively.