3 Signs You May Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

by TOI Admin February 10, 2017

By Rodger Powell, M.D.

Carpal Tunnel is the most common nerve compression in the upper extremity and one of the most common problems seen today by hand surgeons. Compression neuropathy as its name implies is a pressure applied to a nerve from any of a variety of reasons.

The signs of carpal tunnel can be varied, but the most common and classic findings are:

  • Numbness and tingling at night that often awaken you from sleep.  Patients also describe getting up and shaking their hands or "shaking them down by the bedside to restore circulation".
  • Numbness while driving, doing your hair, applying makeup, reading, writing, typing or any other repetitive motion.  Many times vibratory instruments such as chainsaws, weed eaters or motorcycle riding make it worse.
  • Pain radiating into the forearm and occasionally all the way to the shoulder, mimicking shoulder problems.

Diagnosis can be made by physical examination and/or neurological studies such as nerve conduction studies. Underlying diseases such as diabetes and thyroid problems need to be excluded as well. Non-surgical treatments include splints, nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil and carpal tunnel exercises.

When choosing a hand surgeon the patient should consider the surgeon's qualifications including training, experience and board certification, as well as a certificate of added qualification in hand surgery.

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