Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common type of nerve compression disorder. People with carpal tunnel complain of pain, numbness and general hand and wrist weakness. The symptoms can begin slowly, without a specific cause, like an injury. So, which fingers are affected by carpal tunnel? Let’s dive in.
Like many other hand and upper limb conditions, symptoms tend to occur more frequently and persist for longer if it worsens. The symptoms worsen at night since most people sleep with their wrists bent. Carpal tunnel syndrome may affect your grip and wrist since it affects the fingers.
What Is Carpal Tunnel?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage, tube or canal that runs in the wrist. The tunnel allows the median nerve plus tendons to connect the hand and the forearm. The tunnel includes carpal bones and ligaments. Carpal bones make up the sides and bottom of the tunnel, while the ligament holds the tunnel together. Inside the carpal tunnel are the median nerves and tendons.
- The median nerve – this is a nerve that provides sensation to all the fingers except the little finger. The nerve also adds strength to the index finger and thumb.
- Tendons – These are rope-like structures connecting the forearm muscles to the bones. The tendons are responsible for the bending of the fingers and thumb.
Which Fingers are Affected by Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t affect all fingers; it mostly affects the index, middle and ring fingers. The disease never affects the little finger since the median nerve doesn’t serve it. That’s why a common symptom of carpal tunnel is tingling or numbness in the thumb, index and ring fingers that typically feels like an electric shock.
The sensation may travel from the wrist to the upper arm, affecting your grip. The symptoms usually occur when holding something like a steering wheel, phone, or newspaper. If the symptoms are severe, they may wake you at night.
Most people “shake out” the affected hand, which helps relieve the symptoms for a short time. The numbness sensation may become constant over time. Over time, you may experience weakness in the hands, which could result in dropping objects.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel primarily occurs when pressure is exerted on the median nerve. Anything that squeezes or irritates this nerve may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture, for instance, can lead to the narrowing of the carpal tunnel and nerve irritation, resulting in inflammation and swelling. Many times, there is no single cause of the condition. It may be due to a combination of risk factors like:
- Repetitive, frequent and small hand movements, such as when using a keyboard or typing
- Frequent and repetitive grasping motions with the hands, like with sports and certain physical activities
- Bone and joint diseases such as arthritis
- Metabolic or hormonal changes that may occur during pregnancy, menopause or as a result of thyroid imbalance
- Injuries to the wrist, for instance, a strain, dislocation, fracture, swelling or inflammation
- A family history of the condition
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment at the Harley Clinic
If carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t treated, it can result in permanent nerve damage. It can also lead to permanent loss of arm coordination and weakness, resulting in nerve damage. If you suspect you may have carpal tunnel syndrome or another type of hand and upper limb condition, consider seeing a hand specialist immediately. Beginning treatment early is the best way to prevent permanent damage.
Book an appointment today at the Harley Clinic, London, to discuss your carpal tunnel syndrome treatment options.