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What are carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms?

People with carpal tunnel syndrome initially feel numbness and tingling of the hand in the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and thumb side of the ring fingers). These sensations are often more pronounced at night and can awaken people from sleep. The reason symptoms are worse at night may be related to the flexed-wrist sleeping position and/or fluid accumulating around the wrist and hand while lying flat. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a temporary condition that completely resolves or it can persist and progress.

As the disease progresses, patients can develop a burning sensation, and/or cramping and weakness of the hand. Decreased grip strength can lead to frequent dropping of objects from the hand. Occasionally, sharp shooting pains can be felt in the forearm. Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome can also lead to wasting (atrophy) of the hand muscles, particularly those near the base of the thumb in the palm of the hand.

Return to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

See what others are saying

Comment from: George Elder, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 15

I wrote a comment regarding normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) symptoms that was published on May 31 of this year. I just stumbled on this site this morning, and read that comment. There is absolutely no recollection of writing it. The words and tone sound like my prose, but there is no recall. I request that the board monitors affix this post to that one because it might better describe what some of the symptoms are like. I am not sure that I have NPH, but I am dismayed by what is happening to me. It is frightening. There is also increasing emotional liability. But I go the Mass General hospital in September, so perhaps something can be done. As it stands, I am slip-sliding away.

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Comment from: Jack W, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 29

When I received my x-ray report 5 years ago that I had severely degenerated hips and damaged knees I decided that I didn't want to go down the painkillers or replacement hip operation (yet). My hip pain has been brought under control with my own lifestyle and fitness program. This consists of mainly using an electronic massager; applying Manuka honey cream with bee venom; a balanced healthy diet including Zija daily; regular exercise and stretching in the gym and pool; correct gait (the 'FFF - feet face forward rule). The result has been no time off work, walking my dogs daily, up to 6 hours gardening at a time and showing others what to do to help themselves. My program is now written up with lots of photos. Oh yes, finally after 40 years I have now returned to playing badminton instead of tennis as there is less lateral movement involved.

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Comment from: gradstudent_onlin, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 12

I am a graduate student and have had many, many papers and postings due. I began experiencing numbness and tingling at night and initially attributed this to the way I was sleeping. The progression has been fairly quick as I am now having numbness, tingling, and pain that wake me at night. I also do a lot of driving and symptoms occur while driving that make me have to use my non-affected hand to drive with. I have made a doctor's appointment but no diagnosis yet. From all of the searches and information read, it appears to be early carpal tunnel syndrome. Finding EBP (evidence-based practice) on this topic is conflicting in some ways. I will know more after I see the doctor.

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