Many people get numbness, tingling and / or pain to their hands and fingers for various reasons. There are numerous things which can cause these types of problems. One of the most common causes of these hand symptoms is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is classified as a compressive neuropathy, which means that there is a nerve getting pinched. In this case it is the nerve called the median nerve and it is pinched at the wrist in a small space called the carpal tunnel.Inside of the carpal tunnel are the median nerve and a bunch of tendons which move the fingers. Normally there is enough space for all of the tendons and the nerve to freely move inside of the space.Sometimes the structures become irritated or swollen, causing compression of the median nerve. This can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and the symptoms of numbness, tingling and / or pain to the hand and fingers.
Typical events which seem to exacerbate these symptoms include sleeping in bed with the wrists bent, driving a car for a long time and bike riding for a long time with hands on the handle bars while the wrists are bent. Many times people will find themselves shaking the hands to “wake them up”. Some people report that they eventually feel the pain higher up in the forearm or arm.
Some things that can be done to help relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include the use of night time carpal tunnel splints while sleeping. The splints have to hold the wrists in the correct position or they can exacerbate the problem. While riding bicycles, there are handle bars which allow the wrists to be in a more comfortable and straight position. Taking some anti-inflammatory medication, if you are medically cleared to do so, may help the symptoms get under better control.
A firm diagnosis should be obtained if simple conservative treatments don’t quickly work because there are other causes of numbness and pain in the hands. Evaluation and possibly nerve studies may be needed. If it is determined to be carpal tunnel syndrome and if conservative treatments, medications and splints have not been successful, other treatments can be administered for Carpal Tunnel syndrome including injections and even surgery. Because permanent nerve damage is a possible outcome of these conditions, don’t ignore the symptoms of this treatable condition.