Have you noticed tingling or numbness in your hand and wrist? Have you experienced a sharp, piercing pain that goes from your wrist into your arm? It may be carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful and progressive condition caused by compression of the median nerve which runs from the forearm into the palm of your hand. The result of the compression may be pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist with occasional pain radiating up the arm.
Symptoms usually start gradually and can range from frequent burning, tingling, or itching in the palm of the hand and fingers; especially the thumb and index and middle fingers. Other common complaints are that the fingers feel swollen even though there is no apparent swelling in them. A great deal of the time the symptoms will first appear at night and people wake up feeling as if they need to “shake” their wrist or hand out. As it progresses people will notice decreased grip strength and difficulty grasping objects.

Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Dominant hand is usually affected first and people with diabetes are more susceptible as well. It is particularly common in people performing assembly line work.

Treatment should begin as early as possible so that symptoms do not worsen. A physical therapist can help to develop stretching and strengthening exercises to address patient’s deficits from this condition. They can also help to give alternatives to work or home related tasks that put you at risk for developing this condition again.