Signs and Symptoms

If it truly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome sensory disturbances (pins and needles or numbness feeling) will be felt in the Median Nerve region of the hand, which is the palm side involving the thumb, index, middle finger, and the thumb side of the ring finger possibly with the palm included up to the wrist. If it only involves your ring and pinky (4th and 5th digits) fingers, then it is affecting a different nerve called the Ulnar nerve.

Other symptoms may include a decreased ability to grip things, pinch your thumb and index finger, push your thumb out to the side against resistance and if Carpal Tunnel Syndrome gets worse it can cause atrophy (loss of muscle mass) in the muscles of the thumb pad (thenar muscles).

One test used often by doctors to test whether or not someone may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to put pressure over the carpal tunnel using your thumb in a combination with having the wrist flexed down (causing more compression on the carpal tunnel) and observing whether any symptoms begin within 20 seconds. There are other tests that are similar in nature causing compression of the carpal tunnel in order to irritate the Median Nerve causing the reproduction of tingling feelings or even numbness.

It is very important to remember that just because someone is experiencing sensation disturbances in the arms or hands, does not automatically make it a carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are some other possibilities that should be ruled out/in when examining for carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Pronator Teres Syndrome (Pronator Teres is a muscle in the forearm near the elbow which can compress the Median Nerve)
  • Ulnar Neuropathy
  • Radial Neuropathy
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • referral from a Trigger Point in a muscle
  • Cervical spine joint dysfunction (we also call this a subluxation)

Remember to check out the other pages with information on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Definition and Contributing Factors

Signs and Symptoms

Treatment options

Vizniak N, Carnes M, et al. Quick Reference Evidence-Based Conditions Manual 3rd Ed. Professional Health Systems 2009.