Carpal tunnel syndrome – symptoms and risk factors

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms

Carpel tunnel syndrome is a condition which is caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel which is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist. Many people work on a desk and they are trying to ignore the numbness or tingling that they have for some time in their hand and wrist. Also they have suddenly a sharp and piercing shoots through your wrist and up your arm. This could be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.. This is a condition that is causing tingling, numbness and other symptoms in the arm and hand. Also there are other factors which can contribute to the carpal tunnel syndrome such as the anatomy of your wrist, health problems and possibly repetitive hand motions. The proper treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome can give you a relief from the numbness and tingling and it will restore the wrist and hand function. In many cases the cause for carpal tunnel syndrome is to have a smaller carpal tunnel that other people have. Also there are other causes for carpal tunnel syndrome such as wrist injury, performing assembly line work or swelling due to certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is known fact that women are having 3 times more chances to develop carpal tunnel syndrome compared to men [1]. It is very important your doctor to discover this condition at the early stages and to give you a proper treatment because this will help to prevent permanent nerve damage. You doctor will diagnose the carpal tunnel syndrome with a physical exam and special nerve tests. There are many treatments for this condition such as pain and anti – inflammatory medicines, resting your hand, splints and sometimes surgery.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

This condition usually starts gradually. The first symptoms include tingling or numbness in your thumb, middle and index finger that comes and goes. The carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause discomfort in the palm and wrist of your hand. Here are the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Weakness: If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, then you can experience weakness in your hand and a tendency to drop objects. This may be due to weakness of the thumb’s pinching muscles or to the numbness in your hand, which are also controlled by the median nerve. [2]
  • Tingling or numbness: You can experience numbness and tingling in your hands or fingers. Usually the index, thumb, ring or middle fingers are affected but not your little finger. There are some cases when you can feel like electric shock in the mentioned fingers. This sensation can travel from your wrists up to your arm. These symptoms are often happening while holding a newspaper, phone or a steering wheel. This sensation can wake you up from the sleep. Many people shake out their hands because they want to get a relief from the symptoms. The numb feeling can become constant over time. [2]

If you have persistent signs and symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome which can interfere with your normal activities and sleep patterns, then you should talk with your doctor. Permanent nerve and muscle damage can happen if you do not use treatment. Your doctor will ask you for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and he or she will check your hands. If they are not sure that it is carpal tunnel syndrome, then they can refer you to hospital for tests, such as ultrasound scan.

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms

Causes for carpal tunnel syndrome

This condition is happening when the carpal tunnel which is inside your wrist swells and squeezes one of your nerves – median nerve.

Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome: Here are some risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • If you have previously injured your wrists [2,3]
  • If you have a parent, brother or sister with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • If you have another illness, such as diabetes or arthritis [4]
  • If you do work or hobbies that mean you repeatedly bend your wrist or grip hard, such as using vibrating tools [5]
  • If you are pregnant [6]
  • If you are overweight [7]
  • If you perform assembly line work such as fish packing, poultry, meat, cleaning, fishing, sewing and manufacturing


[1] McDiarmid M, Oliver M, Ruser J, Gucer P. Male and female rate differences in carpal tunnel syndrome injuries: Personal attributes or job tasks? Environmental Research. 2000;83(1):23-32.

[2]  National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. Retrieved from

[3] Yeh KT, Lee RP, Yu TC, et al. Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger following distal radius fracture: a nationwide study. Scientific Reports. 2020. Retrieved from

[4] Perkins BA, Olaleye D, Bril V. Carpal tunnel syndrome in patients with diabetic polyneuropathy. Diabetes Care. 2002;25(3):565-9.

[5] Palmer KT. Carpal tunnel syndrome: The role of occupational factors. Best Practice & Research: Clinical  Rheumatology. 2011;25(1):15–29.

[6] Meems M, Truijens SEM, Spek V, et al. Prevalence, course and determinants of carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms during pregnancy: a prospective study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2015;122(8):1112-8.

[7] Shiri R, Pourmemari MH, Falah-Hassani K, Viikari-Juntura E. The effect of excess body mass on the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome: a meta-analysis of 58 studies. Obesity Reviews. 2015;16(12):1094-104


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