Carpal Tunnel Pain

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Learn about what causes carpal tunnel pain, how to prevent it, and how it is treated in this article.

 

Table of Contents

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Compression of the median nerve located in the palm of the hand is called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). When the median nerve, which controls the movement of the hand and wrist, is strained or pinched, it causes pain, tingling, and numbness.

CTS accounts for around 90% of all neuropathic pain. In the United States, one to three people per every one thousand develop carpal tunnel syndrome every year.1

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can range from mild to severe but usually start gradually with tingling in the fingers. In some cases, the pain becomes too overwhelming and significant, causing people to change their lifestyle (e.g., work, hobbies, activities) to avoid using their affected hand.

Several factors irritate the tendons and stretch the median nerve, causing carpal tunnel pain. For example, fluid retention, repetitive wrist movements, and injury or trauma to the wrist, such as a sprain and arthritis, can result in carpal tunnel swelling.

Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The following are common carpal tunnel symptoms:
  • Tingling in the fingers
  • Decreased feeling in the fingertips
  • Difficulty using the hand for small tasks, such as:
    • Handling small objects
    • Grasping a steering wheel to drive
    • Holding a book to read
    • Writing
    • Using a computer keyboard
  • Weakness in the hand
  • Inability to perform tasks that require delicate motions 
  • Dropping objects

Who Is at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

People with metabolic conditions that directly damage the body’s nerves or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. CTS often only affects adults, and females are three times more likely to develop this condition than males.2
Factors increase the risk of suffering from carpal tunnel pain will be detailed below.

High-Force (Hammering)

The carpal tunnel in the wrist can be strained by repeatedly hammering and using vibrating equipment. Maintenance personnel frequently engage in these activities, which can result in CTS.

Long-Term Use

The tendons in the carpal tunnel can become irritated and inflamed through repetitive usage of heavy tools and awkward hand positions.

Extreme Wrist Motions

Carpal tunnel wrist pain can worsen when the wrist is repeatedly overextended or engaged in extreme wrist movements. Using a keyboard, playing the piano, or typing are examples of frequent movements that can irritate the nerves.

Vibration

High-frequency vibrations may cause the ligaments to swell up. Vibrating power tools can cause carpal tunnel syndrome if used regularly.

Heredity

Heredity is the term used to describe the genetic transmission of physical or mental characteristics from one generation to the next. Some families suffer from a small carpal tunnel, increasing the risk of CTS.

Pregnancy

The median nerve may get compressed due to pregnancy hormones causing fluid retention. According to multiple studies, on average, 30% of pregnant women report hand and wrist pain. After birth, severe carpal tunnel pain caused by pregnancy usually goes away.3

Hemodialysis

Long-term dialysis treatment frequently results in CTS as a side effect. Hemodialysis increases the size of the carpal tunnel because of amyloid accumulation.

Wrist Fracture and Dislocation

The displacement of one of the larger bones in the forearm or a wrist fracture increases the risk of developing CTS. In addition, broken bone fragments could irritate tendons or squeeze the carpal tunnel, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hand or Wrist Deformity

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by malformation of the hand and wrist bones. Deformities of the hand and wrist can take many different forms, most occurring at birth.

Arthritic Diseases

An inflammatory disease known as arthritis can damage one or more joints and cause pain and stiffness. Different forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, can cause the carpal tunnel to swell and become inflamed.

How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

Medical professionals can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome by combining physical examinations, carpal tunnel tests, and the patient’s medical history. Doctors employ the following techniques to identify carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Tinel’s test
  • Phalen test
  • X-rays
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction studies

How Can I Treat Wrist Pain at Home?

Some home remedies can relieve mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Individuals can treat mild wrist pain by:
  • Wearing a wrist splint
  • Resting the wrist and keeping it elevated
  • Taking mild pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Placing an ice pack on the affected area for several minutes at a time to reduce swelling and pain
If the pain persists after performing the following actions, contact an expert at J. Flowers Health for proper carpal tunnel diagnosis and treatment.

How Can I Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome is challenging because many factors in a person’s daily life can compress or strain the median nerve. The following can help reduce the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:
  • Keep the wrist straight when using hand tools
  • Don’t bend or curl the wrists too much
  • Take rests when performing hard, repetitive hand tasks that compress the median nerve
  • Watch for carpal tunnel syndrome signs and take appropriate action as needed

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

The long-term effects of carpal tunnel treatment vary depending on the type of treatment received. Nonetheless, more research on long-term outcomes and results must be conducted to provide more concrete evidence of long-term treatment effectiveness.

carpal tunnel symptoms

Non-Surgical Treatment Outcomes

Non-surgical treatments, such as splints and corticosteroid injections, have shown to provide more short-term relief versus long-term.
For example, studies on splinting found that patients reported a significant decrease in CTS symptoms after a three-month follow-up; however, the symptoms worsened after a nine-month follow-up. Additionally, corticosteroid injections showed that 53% of patients had no symptoms after six months, but that percentage dropped to 31% after twelve months.4

Surgical Treatment Outcomes

Long-term surgical treatment outcomes are much more promising than non-surgical methods. Carpal tunnel release (CTR) is a popular and effective surgical option. One study reported that after an eleven- to seventeen-year follow-up, 88% of patients said they remained completely satisfied or very satisfied with the CTR treatment and were symptom-free.5

Get Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at J. Flowers Health

If you or a loved one is experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, contact us at J. Flowers Health today. Our medical experts use the most recent techniques and treatments to help you manage and recover from carpal tunnel syndrome. J. Flowers Health specialists work together to provide you with the best care and service possible.