Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand
  • An electric shock-like feeling mostly in the thumb, index, and long fingers
  • Strange sensations and pain traveling up the arm toward the shoulder

Symptoms usually begin gradually, without a specific injury. In most people, symptoms are more severe on the thumb side of the hand.

Symptoms may occur at any time. Because many people sleep with their wrists curled, symptoms at night are common and may awaken you from sleep. During the day, symptoms frequently occur when holding something, like a phone, or when reading or driving.

Symptoms initially come and go, but over time they become constant if left untreated. A feeling of clumsiness or weakness can make delicate motions, like buttoning your shirt, difficult. These feelings may cause you to drop things. When left untreated the condition becomes very severe and muscles at the base of the thumb will become visibly wasted.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common source of hand numbness and pain. It is more common in women than men.

“…it should be the first therapeutic choice for treating carpal tunnel syndrome.”

  British Journal of Pain, 2014


The carpal tunnel is a narrow, tunnel-like structure in the wrist. The bottom and sides of this tunnel are formed by wrist (carpal) bones. The top of the tunnel is covered by a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament.

The median nerve travels from the forearm into the hand through this tunnel in the wrist. The median nerve controls feeling in the palm side of the thumb, index finger, and long fingers. The nerve also controls the muscles around the base of the thumb. The tendons that bend the fingers and thumb also travel through the carpal tunnel. These tendons are called flexor tendons.


Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tissues surrounding the flexor tendons in the wrist swell and put pressure on the median nerve. These tissues are called the synovium. The synovium lubricates the tendons and makes it easier to move the fingers.

This swelling of the synovium narrows the confined space of the carpal tunnel, and over time, crowds the nerve.

Many things contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Heredity is the most important factor – carpal tunnels are smaller in some people, and this trait can run in families.
  • Hand use over time can play a role.
  • Hormonal changes related to pregnancy can play a role.
  • Age — the disease occurs more frequently in older people.
  • Medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid gland imbalance can play a role.

In most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is no single cause.

NIH Statistics on Recommended Treatments:

  • Carpal Tunnel Surgery has a 52% failure rate.
  • Carpal Tunnel Massage Therapy has a 93% success rate.

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Copyright 2014: The Carpal Rx is a product of Carpal Pain Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. All information contained on this website is the property of Carpal Pain Solutions, Inc. and may not be reproduced without written permission. For more information, contact Carpal Pain Solutions, Inc. at

Information provided on this website and the content of articles & videos is not to be construed as medical advice. If you suspect that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, wrist tendonitis or any other condition addressed within this publication you should consult with a qualified health care provider for a proper diagnosis of your symptoms.

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