How Does Carpal Tunnel Affect your Hands?

How Does Carpal Tunnel Affect your Hands?

Posted on 09/17/18

Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, is a widely diagnosed condition that affects the hands and wrists. It is caused by compression of a narrow channel that runs from the forearm into the wrist called the carpal tunnel. This channel is made up of the bones of the wrist which run underneath it, and the transverse carpal ligament which runs across the top. Through the center of the channel runs the median nerve, which is the main nerve that delivers messages between the central nervous system and wrist and hands. It also delivers feeling to the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and half of the ring finger. Nine tendons serving these fingers also pass through the carpal tunnel.

Exactly what causes the carpal tunnel to compress can vary from person to person, as too can the way in which the condition affects your hands.

How does carpal tunnel syndrome affect your hands?

Exactly how your hands will be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome can vary from patient to patient and will also depend on the extent to which the carpal tunnel is compressed. However, there are some symptoms that are commonly reported and are typically used in diagnosing this painful and debilitating condition. These include:

-         A tingling sensation in your fingers, hands and wrists

-         Numbness of the hands

-         Pain in your wrist and hand. This may spread up your arm as far as your shoulder. In most instances this is experienced as a dull ache but in some cases, patients can suffer from a more acute version of the pain. The pain of carpal tunnel syndrome is often worse at night and many people report that it is severe enough to wake them up at night.

-         Weakness in the fingers, hand and wrist. This is often one of the most debilitating aspects of carpal tunnel syndrome since the weakness may affect your ability to use your hands and wrists as you would normally. Some patients find it hard to lift anything remotely heavy with their affected hand, while others struggle to grip a pen or effectively work a computer mouse due to problems with strength and mobility.

While some patients may experience ongoing symptoms, others may find that their symptoms come and go and vary in severity. This unpredictability can be frustrating.

Am I at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect anyone at any time, although studies have shown that it is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Nevertheless, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

-         A job or preferred recreational activity that involves repetitive movements.

-         Obesity. If you are overweight, you are more likely to develop many health problems including carpal tunnel syndrome.

-         A smaller than normal carpal tunnel, as this means you are more likely to experience problems if the carpal tunnel narrows or is compressed.

-         Certain health conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis.

-         A previous injury to your hand or wrist.


If you would like more information about carpal tunnel syndrome and the way in which it affects your hands, or if you suspect that you are suffering from the condition and would like an appointment with our specialist hand doctors to discuss what treatment options are available to you, please don’t hesitate to contact our Oakland, CA office.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.