Memorial Health - June 07, 2021

Do you wake up in the middle of the night with numbness and tingling in your thumb, index, middle, and/or ring finger? Or, find that your hands go numb gripping objects for prolonged periods of time? Perhaps you experience aching or sharp pain in your palm with prolonged extreme bending or repetitive motions of your wrist or fingers? If so, you could be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

The median nerve and nine tendons run through a small passageway at the wrist that create the carpal tunnel. When the median nerve suffers irritation or compression, carpal tunnel syndrome can occur. It can also occur from a sudden injury to the hand that leads to increased swelling in the carpal tunnel. Some people may have a smaller carpal tunnel which may increase compression on the median nerve.

Occupational use such as repeated use of vibratory tools (such as drills or jackhammers) and prolonged extreme bending of the wrist with typing or holding a steering wheel may contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Medical conditions including diabetes, thyroid diseases, arthritis and even pregnancy may cause it. Women are more likely than men to suffer from the syndrome.

What are the common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include tingling in the thumb, index, middle and a portion of the ring finger. It may cause aching or sharp pain in the palm and/or hand. The compression and irritation can progress over time causing the symptoms to worsen. This can lead to difficulty performing fine motor tasks and make activities of daily living such as picking up objects, turning a doorknob or managing buttons and zippers difficult.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

Treatment options can include lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy and surgery. Memorial Health’s certified hand therapists provide a vital role in conservative management of carpal tunnel syndrome. This therapy can potentially prolong or avoid the need for surgery. If surgery is necessary, the certified hand therapists are committed to helping patients regain maximum use of the hand. Speak with your doctor for a referral to one of our skilled hand therapists.