If you experience a lot of pain in your fingers, hands, and wrists after spending time typing, gardening, or doing anything else repetitive, one of your first thoughts might be carpal tunnel syndrome. Pain is perhaps the most well-known symptom of one of the most common nerve conditions. There are also a lot of other, more surprising signs you have carpal tunnel syndrome that you might not know as much about, even if you already know that you have the condition.
The University of Maryland Medical Center noted that although it's very difficult to be certain how many people have carpal tunnel syndrome, there's some evidence that about 2 percent of all men and 3 percent of all women could be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome at some point in their lives. Additionally, it seems as though genetics, BMI, age, the anatomy and shape of your wrist and hand, whether you smoke, and how much alcohol you consume, among other things, can all also play a role in whether or not you develop symptoms, as well as how severe those symptoms might be. Beyond pain, there are a number of additional symptoms that can give you an idea of whether or not you're dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. If you experience them — or have some pain and are at risk — a doctor can help you figure out where to go from here.
1. Your Hand Gets Numb
In addition to wrist pain, many people who experience carpal tunnel syndrome also complain of finger and hand numbness. The Mayo Clinic noted that while carpal tunnel syndrome-related numbness in your fingers typically doesn't affect the littlest finger, it can also extend into your hand, causing problems and making you feel as though you need to shake it out.
2. You Feel A Burning Sensation In Several Fingers
Chances are, if you experience any sort of burning sensation in your fingers or hand, you're probably going to be a bit concerned. It could actually be an early sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. WebMD noted that burning in your thumb or fingers (but, again, not your pinky finger) or that also extends up your forearm could mean that you're beginning to develop the condition.
3. Your Fingers Feel (But Don't Look) Swollen
The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke noted that some people with the condition have reported that their fingers feel swollen, even though they don't look super swollen. You might think it's just water retention, but if you have any other additional symptoms, it could actually be a very subtle sign that you could have carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Your Wrist Hurts For Seemingly No Reason When You're Trying To Sleep
Many carpal tunnel suffers deal with pain at night, so if you notice that your wrists hurt when you wake up in the middle of the night or right when you wake up in the morning, it could potentially be a sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome and not just that you slept in a strange position. Cleveland Clinic noted that because people sometimes sleep in a position with their wrists curled in, the pain they experience during the night might even interfere with their ability to comfortably sleep through the night.
5. You Struggle Holding On To Things
In a blog post on its website, Mid America Rehab noted that dropping things or decreased grip strength could be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. While, of course, not everyone who drops things is dealing with the condition, if you also have some additional symptoms, it could be something worth considering.
6. Your Hands Are Cold, But Your Forearms Aren't
Many people have cold hands and it doesn't mean that they have carpal tunnel syndrome, but if you're at a higher risk for the condition or you also notice other symptoms, it might be something to bring up with your doctor. The previously-mentioned blog post from Mid America Rehab noted that cold hands coupled with warm forearms can also be a surprising sign that you might have the condition.
7. Your Neck Or Shoulders Ache
Mid America Rehab noted in the aforementioned blog post that aching shoulders or neck pain can also be sneakier signs that you might have carpal tunnel syndrome. Though you probably won't run right off to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the condition if your neck is a bit sore, these surprising symptoms could could actually indicate that there's something more going on with your wrists and hands than you thought.
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