Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms
The carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms typically appear gradually and occur intermittently. Common symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling: Many people experience a loss of feeling or tingling sensations in all their fingers and thumb, except for their little finger. These feelings of “pins and needles” or numbness often occur while grasping an object, such as the steering wheel of a car, a telephone, or while holding up a book. It also frequently wakes people from sleep. The tingling or pain may shoot up the hand or wrist into the arm. Sometimes people try to clench and unclench their hands or shake their hands vigorously to try to relieve the tingling. With the progression of the condition, the symptoms and signs of carpal tunnel syndrome may become constant.
- Weakness: Weakness may be due to the loss of sensation in the hand or due to weakness in the muscle that enables the thumb to grasp. This weakness can result in a tendency to drop objects.
When to see a doctor
Untreated carpal tunnel syndrome can result in permanent nerve and muscle damage. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome signs or symptoms and they are persistent, interfere with your daily activities, or interrupt your sleep, see your doctor.
Carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis
Your physician will gather information to check carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis and determine the condition that causes your symptoms. This information may include:
- The history of your symptoms: Your healthcare provider will review your signs and symptoms to determine their cause.
- A physical examination: Your physician will examine you and test the muscle strength of your hand. Your doctor will also check for sensation in your hand and fingers. Applying pressure to the median nerve at the wrist by pressing or gently tapping the nerve or bending the wrist can bring about symptoms in some patients.
- Diagnostic testing: Some physicians recommend diagnostic tests in order to determine the extent of nerve and muscle damage and rule out other reasons for your symptoms. These tests may include:
- X-rays: X-rays can be used to rule out other conditions, such as a broken bone or arthritis.
- Electromyography: This is also called an EMG. A needle is inserted through your skin into different muscles during this test to check for electrical impulses.
- Nerve conduction studies: The doctor places small electrodes on your skin to measure the electrical signals sent by your nerves.
You may be also referred to a neurologist, a doctor specializing in the nervous system and conditions that affect it. Your healthcare provider might also refer you to other specialists for surgery or to treat other conditions if testing indicates you need additional treatment.
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