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What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

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Quick Answer

A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may feel erratic tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers, especially when grasping a phone or steering wheel, according to Mayo Clinic. The hands may also feel weak, and the tingling discomfort may occasionally spread up the wrists and arms.

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Full Answer

Carpal tunnel syndrome often progresses from a periodic feeling of burning, itching or swelling to frequent, persistent symptoms, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes. Many sufferers initially experience radiating pain symptoms at night and wake up with the urge to shake their hands. Over time, the hand's motor or sensory function may feel impaired, making it difficult to grip objects or sense different temperatures by touch. Chronic carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to lasting muscle damage in the thumb.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve that extends from the forearm to the hand becomes compressed, or pinched, by the surrounding structures, Mayo Clinic States. The nerve is housed inside the carpal tunnel, a passageway composed of bone and ligamentary tissue, which runs along the palms side of the wrist. The nerve also attaches to thumb and finger tendons, aiding in both sensory and motor function. Injuries, anatomical irregularities, illnesses and repetitive motions can all trigger carpal tunnel syndromes, and in severe or untreated cases, an individual can suffer permanent nerve damage.

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