Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

By Julia Aparicio

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed at the wrist, has a variety of symptoms. Typically, symptoms begin gradually, with burning, prickling or numbness in the palm of the hand, wrist and fingers. Symptoms most commonly begin to present themselves at night, since many people sleep with their wrists bent or flexed, making any discomfort more apparent when they awake. However, as symptoms worsen, people may begin to feel them during the day as well, typically accompanied by intermittent pain shooting from the wrist up the arm or down to the fingers. A feeling of swelling in the fingers also often is reported, although no apparent inflammation is visible.

As symptoms continue to progress, people may have difficulty forming a fist or holding objects. They may experience decreased hand coordination as well, making day-to-day activities more difficult. Those affected with carpal tunnel also will find it increasingly difficult to sustain prolonged actions. In certain cases, people also may not be able to distinguish between feeling hot or cold. If left untreated, thumb muscles can begin to deteriorate, leading to permanent weakness in the hand and thumb.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can vary from mild to severe and can be categorized into three different types: classic, acute and bilateral. Classic carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder caused when the median nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel becomes constricted at the wrist. Acute carpal tunnel usually is caused by trauma or injury, such as dislocation or fracture to the wrist. This form typically requires immediate action, such as surgery, to prevent permanent damage. Bilateral carpal tunnel occurs when both hands and wrists are affected simultaneously. However, typically the severity of the symptoms is more prominent on one side.

Last Reviewed November 15, 2015

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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