Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Have you recently noticed occasional tingling, numbness, or weakness in your hand? It might even radiate up your forearm to your elbow. If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Gregg A. Vagner, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon in Austin, TX, who specializes in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. Dr. Vagner treats carpal tunnel syndrome on a regular basis and recognizes how important it is for patients to be aware of its symptoms. Prompt intervention can restore your comfort and keep the condition from progressing and causing further damage.
What Causes Symptoms?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common condition that is caused by a compressed, or pinched, nerve in the arm. The median nerve passes through a narrow passageway, known as the carpal tunnel, located on the pulse side of the wrist.
Symptoms are often more noticeable at night and while participating in certain activities that exacerbate the condition.
There are many possible contributors to this potentially debilitating condition, and it is not always possible to narrow it down to any one cause. These include wrist fracture, overuse, hereditary factors, pregnancy, and certain diseases. Anyone, including both men and of virtually any age—can suffer from it.
While the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome may not always be clear, the symptoms are so predictable as to be almost diagnostic.
Tingling, Numbness, and Pain
This sensation is first noticed in the thumb and middle fingers and may be intermittent. It can radiate up the arm as high as the elbow, and the tingling can sometimes feel more like an electric shock. Over time, the numbness can become permanent. The only part of the hand left unaffected is the little finger, which is not innervated by the median nerve.
Weakness in the Hand Muscles
As the condition progresses, the muscles in the hand and forearm can become weaker, making it more difficult to perform normal day-to-day functions. Patients may begin to have problems gripping small objects, such as a fork or pencil.
In time, patients may notice that they are more prone to dropping things and unable to comfortably perform important functions, such as opening doors or gripping the steering wheel.
These symptoms are often more noticeable at night and while participating in certain activities that exacerbate the condition. These might include such actions as holding a phone, newspaper, or steering wheel for long periods at a time. Patients who are noticing these telltale symptoms are encouraged to seek medical help sooner, rather than later. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can eventually cause muscle atrophy and permanent nerve damage. This can leave patients unable to safely drive or perform normal household or work tasks.
Prevent Further Damage
If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that are affecting your life, schedule a consultation with Dr. Vagner today. You can visit him in two convenient Austin locations or in Cedar Park. Call the office at (512) 476-2830 or message a staff member online.
"I am committed to using experience, along with the latest techniques and technologies, to help my patients achieve the full function, mobility, and comfort in their hand, wrist, and arm that they experienced prior to their injury."Dr. Gregg Vagner