How to Tell If You Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Updated on April 24, 2019
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A poll conducted in 2010 showed that just over 3% of the US working population had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It should be noted that this is a self-reported survey, and the questions asked concerned whether you had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or were told by a doctor you had it.

This does not include people who have unconfirmed cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. With that in mind, do you know how to tell if you have Carpal Tunnel?

There are a number of symptoms to look out for when it comes to diagnosing Carpal Tunnel, and we’ll talk more about them in the paragraphs below.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Before going any further, we should address what Carpal Tunnel actually is. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is named after the area of our body that it affects.

The Carpal Tunnel is an area of your wrist, through which many parts pass, including a nerve–known as the Median nerve–tendons, and ligaments. One edge, which also forms the back of the wrist, is made up of small bones called carpal bones, hence the name.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when this area constricts, often because of swelling in some parts of the wrist. The result is pressure on the nerve, which leads to the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel often occurs because of repetitive wrist movements, and many people get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from a work-related activity.

1. Tingling and Numbness

Now, we come to the question of how to tell if you have Carpal Tunnel. A lot of it has to do with nerves.

Nerves the messengers to and from our brain. They carry sensory information and the body’s marching orders. When a nerve is damaged or restricted, it often causes issues in feeling and function.

In the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, these sensory issues often present in the form of pain, tingling, and numbness. These symptoms are not limited to the wrists, either. This is because the condition occurs in the Median nerve.

The Median nerve runs down the entire length of the arm and hand. The result is that symptoms can occur in any part of the arm. However, symptoms often affect the wrists and fingers in particular.

In addition to tingling and numbness, Carpal Tunnel can cause a loss of proprioception. Proprioception is medical jargon meaning awareness of the body.

Have you ever heard that old warning that if your head wasn’t attached, you’d lose it? The loss of proprioception is the closest you can get to this actually happening. If it occurs in your hand, like in Carpal Tunnel, you lose the ability to sense where your hand is in relation to the rest of your body.

Imagine trying to walk when you can’t feel your legs. Sure, you know that, in theory, they’re underneath your torso, but that doesn’t help much.

Imagine trying to grab and hold an object without knowing where your fingers are. That’s one of the realities of living with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

2. Decreased Functionality

Since nerves are responsible for coordinating movement based on brain signals, any disturbance in the nerves can also affect the mobility of the connected body parts. 

With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you may notice that moving your fingers is much harder. You may drop objects or struggle to grab and pick them up at all. Some even find it difficult to make a fist.

3. Deterioration

Like many other conditions, Carpal Tunnel only gets worse the longer it’s left untreated. Pain, 

The good news is that it’s not hard to treat. Numbness might lead to proprioception. Proprioception will make it harder to function, and on it goes.

You should still seek medical attention if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. There are treatments you can administer yourself, but they’re temporary at best and can be time-consuming. 

4. Non-Invasive Treatments

There are several medical treatments that a doctor can prescribe and administer. They could give you a wrist splint to relieve symptoms at night. However, this only helps control symptoms at night, and they return when the splint is taken off.

Doctors may also prescribe NSAID pain relievers. As their name implies, these will help lessen the pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, although they won’t treat any of the other symptoms.

The final non-invasive treatment is the use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids can be taken by mouth or injected directly into your wrists. This relieves many symptoms, but it’s not a permanent solution. 

5. Surgeries

In an effort to find more permanent relief, many turn to surgery. There are two types of surgery that are used to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They are endoscopic surgery and open surgery.

The biggest difference between the two is that endoscopic surgery is less invasive, but it’s also a bit riskier and may be more expensive due to the endoscope. An endoscope is a tiny recording device that helps transmit the image back to the doctor.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, sophisticated technology tends to be quite expensive.

Neither surgery is more effective than the other, and in most patients, the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel either lessen or go away entirely. This isn’t a guaranteed cure for Carpal Tunnel, but it’s about as close as doctors have gotten so far.

How to Tell if You Have Carpal Tunnel and How to Treat It

In the paragraphs above, we’ve discussed how to tell if you have Carpal Tunnel and how you go about treating it. There’s more to learn about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and if you’re interested, we encourage you to do more research on your own.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.