Carpal tunnel syndrome can be quite painful, prompting frustrated patients to seek a surgical solution.
But for some individuals with this common disorder, there is never any pain.
Tingling and/or numbness may be the only symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Those with only the tingling and numbness naturally worry that one day they will start experiencing pain.
The next question the becomes: When does the pain usually strike? In the morning? During activity? With certain hand use such as chopping vegetables or using a computer?
“Actually, the most common symptom initially occurs at night, where there is numbness and tingling of the fingers,” says Alejandro Badia, MD, FACS, hand and upper limb surgeon and owner of Badia Hand to Shoulder Center in Doral, FL.
“People think it’s because of a problem with circulation or that they’re sleeping on their hand.
“Certainly this is partly positional, particularly flexing or bending the wrist or extending it.
“Those positions cause increased pressure on the median nerve which runs within the carpal tunnel that is defined by floor and walls of the carpal of wrist bones, and the roof is a thick two and a half inch center ligament called the transverse carpal.”
Below is an illustration of this disorder that can sometimes cause severe pain.
Furthermore, carpal tunnel syndrome can develop in both hands at about the same time — even though this presentation is very uncommon.
Causes include repetitive motions such as what are used on a keyboard, cash register or with sewing activities; underactive thyroid; obesity; rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Dr. Badia explains, “The symptoms usually are a numbness and tingling, and then usually pain will begin at a later stage or sometimes never comes on, but regardless [the numbness and tingling] is very uncomfortable.”
Dr. Badia is a founding member of the American Hand Institute, a think tank and medical device start-up company focused on minimally invasive solutions to hand, wrist and elbow pathology. orthonowcare.com
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.