Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a debilitating but treatable condition, requiring medical attention and treatment.   However, being a popular injury, it is often confused with a number of different ailments, especially since carpal tunnel symptoms can range from mild to severe and don’t always affect the body in exactly the same way. Even with these disparities between individual patients, there are common symptoms that should trigger a trip to the doctor’s office for additional tests and a diagnosis.

If you are still on the fence whether you should talk to a medical professional about the symptoms you are experiencing, reflect on whether you are experiencing the following 3 symptoms in one or both hands, suggesting that it may indeed be carpal tunnel.

  1. Numbness

Numbness is a tell-tale sign that you might be experiencing carpal tunnel. This numbness, followed by a pins and needles sensation can affect anywhere from your fingers, hand, wrist, or forearm and can be experienced at any time of the day or night. It’s a similar feeling to when you lose circulation in your arm and it “falls asleep” after you have been laying on it, or not moving it for a long time. If you have carpal tunnel, you will notice this numbness occurring more and more often, both during the day and night, possibly coupled with aching pains.

  1. Loss of Strength & Dexterity

Those who have carpal tunnel syndrome lose some of the strength and dexterity in their hands and forearms, making everyday tasks like holding cutlery or a pen a difficult feat. They might also lose the ability to pinch and hold with their thumb and pointer finger, making certain things like picking up clothes or doing up buttons near impossible. The thumb muscles grow weak and you find it harder to grip things. Those with severe symptoms might even notice their thumbs getting smaller over time as they lose muscle mass. So if you find yourself dropping things because you aren’t able to get a proper grip on them or you have to ask for help with opening jars, even when they aren’t stuck, you might be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.

  1. Pain & Stiffness

Along with the aforementioned numbness, those affected by carpal tunnel often get an aching or shooting pain in their forearms or hands. This pain will get worse when trying to use the hand to do something that makes you flex your wrist or grip with your hand. Even when not actively using your hands and arms, those with carpal tunnel will experience stiffness followed with more pain. However, where the pain is located is a good indicator of whether or not it is actually carpal tunnel or if it is a different injury or problem. If areas that are serviced by the median nerve that goes through your wrist, so namely all of your fingers except for half of your ring finger and your pinky, show symptoms of pain, numbness, stiffness, and loss of strength, it may indeed be carpal tunnel. Otherwise, you might want to do some additional tests to properly diagnose what it is that affecting you.

Treating carpal tunnel always starts with a correct diagnosis, for which you will need a trained medical professional. Afterwards, depending on the cause and severity of the condition, different treatment options may surface, including prolonged rest, physiotherapy as well as surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery has immediate and delayed benefits, and thanks to the progression of technology is a non-invasion procedure that more and more affected patients are electing to do. However, the most important thing is to trust in the guidance of your medical team.