The Early Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Look Out For

If you’re dealing with frequent, lingering pain or numbness in your wrist, hands, and arms, it could be time to investigate whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, most people’s symptoms start slowly and begin with numbness or tingling.

However, carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common condition that typically affects adults who engage in repetitive motions such as typing or knitting regularly. There are also early signs to look out for to get an accurate diagnosis before symptoms become too severe. 

Keep reading to learn more about the common indicators of this nerve disorder. It could just be what you need on your journey toward achieving relief!

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder that affects people who do a lot of repetitive tasks with their hands, like typing or playing instruments. It’s caused by pressure from swelling on the median nerve in the carpal area of the wrist, usually because of overuse.

While that sounds like an “okay” condition to live with, you need to be careful about carpal tunnel syndrome. Understanding the causes can help you know what to look for and avoid.

For instance, a wrist fracture can squeeze or irritate the median nerve located in the carpal tunnel space, producing carpal tunnel. Similarly, inflammation and swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis can narrow the carpal tunnel and hence exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

Other carpal tunnel causes include:

  • Direct forearm injuries such as fractures or wrist sprains
  • Repetitive motions or vibrations of the hands and wrists
  • Fluid retention that originates from certain medical conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances due to pregnancy, menopause, diabetes, etc.

Unfortunately, sometimes there are no specific causes of carpal tunnel syndrome because it may arise due to an accumulation of factors. For example, maybe you were genetically predisposed to develop the condition and then worked for 20 years as a typist in an office.

Basically, carpal tunnel syndrome is a symptom of using our hands too much. However, there are ways to prevent it, like taking breaks between tasks or using tools designed for comfort and ergonomics.

Carpal Tunnel Risk Factors

As mentioned above, carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t always have a direct cause. Sometimes, there are multiple causes. However, in most cases, it’s caused by overusing your hands or wrists in a way that puts pressure on your nerves. Over time, this leads to nerve damage that can severely affect your ability to use your hands and wrist in the future.

Most people are aware of the general causes of carpal tunnel, though. Most people don’t understand that additional risk factors are associated with the condition. Knowing what these are can help you know what to look for and how to avoid certain situations that might lead to weakness in the hands over time.


Gender is an important risk factor when understanding carpal tunnel syndrome. Women are more likely to suffer from this painful condition than men, potentially because their carpal tunnel area is significantly smaller.

Studies also suggest that women diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome may have even smaller carpal tunnels than those who don’t. Although gender isn’t the only risk factor for developing this uncomfortable condition, it certainly plays a role in many cases.

Body Composition

Body composition and anatomy can be huge risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if the size of your carpal tunnel is smaller than most people.

Namely, your body composition can affect the size of your carpal tunnel. If it’s unusually small, it can increase the probability of developing it. This means that, in fact, some people are just genetically predisposed to develop carpal tunnel (however, added strain at desk jobs or during sports certainly doesn’t help).

Additionally, health issues like a wrist fracture or dislocation, or even arthritis that alters and deforms the small bones in your wrist, can also put pressure on the median nerve and lead to an increased chance of experiencing this condition.

Nerve-Damaging Conditions

Did you know that the median nerve in your wrist can become damaged due to several nerve-affecting conditions, like diabetes? When nerve damage occurs, the nerve can’t necessarily do the job it’s responsible for, resulting in tingling, pain, and even numbness in the wrist and hand.

If these symptoms don’t improve with treatment, this could indicate that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Be sure to consult your doctor if you feel you may fall into this category. Remember that these symptoms aren’t always indicative of carpal tunnel. We’ll walk you through some other potential conditions and causes below.


Those with severe inflammation in the body might also be more at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s because inflammation puts pressure on your nerves.

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis that cause inflammation in the body can impact the space around the tendons in your wrist, putting extra pressure on the median nerve. This extra pressure can lead to numbness, tingling, and pain in your hand and fingers. Those are all hallmarks of carpal tunnel syndrome.

No matter what type of inflammation you’re experiencing, it’s important to keep your wrists supported when doing any activities that involve repetitive motions. Take frequent breaks to stretch. Better yet, switch activities if possible.


Medications, such as anastrozole, are a risk factor for developing carpal tunnel. Just like other medications, anastrozole should not be taken without consulting a doctor or pharmacist first, especially if you have already been diagnosed with carpal tunnel or other health issues that might affect your response to medications.


Being overweight increases the likelihood of various health issues. Unfortunately, obesity can also increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because obesity can put additional pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, which is responsible for carrying nerve impulses to certain muscles of the hand.

This can lead to numbness, tingling, and discomfort. If you’re overweight and start feeling any related symptoms, get in touch with your doctor. It could be something as simple as a pinched nerve. Or, it could be early symptoms of carpal tunnel. Speaking with your doctor can help you tackle this problem before it worsens.


Finally, your job might influence your likelihood of developing this condition. For example, long hours spent on an assembly line that requires repeated motions with flexed wrists can create excess pressure on the median nerve.

Working with vibrating tools also poses a significant risk. The vibrations can lead to nerve damage over time. And, as you probably know, certain office jobs can lead to carpal tunnel, too. This is especially true if you type all day long.

To protect your health from workplace-related carpal tunnel, take regular breaks during work days and use proper ergonomics whenever possible to reduce tension on the wrists. Sit tight for more tips on how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. We’ll get to those in just a bit.

Early Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Now that you know what the risk factors are, how do you identify the early symptoms of carpal tunnel? In most people, the early signs of this condition are numbness, tingling fingers, and weakness in the hands.


Numbness in the hands due to carpal tunnel can be an unpleasant experience. It’s that tingly sensation that you can feel on your palms, fingers, and thumb. It almost feels like a numbness you can’t shake off. In most cases, it persists even after you’ve tried various forms of relief, such as massages or stretching.

Compared to the numbness you may feel when your hand falls asleep, the numbness from carpal tunnel feels markedly different due to its chronic nature rather than temporary occurrence.

Carpal tunnel numbness is more persistent and noticeable even when not provoked by pressure. This is unlike numbness from a hand falling asleep. That sensation usually quickly dissipates with movement and rest.

Tingling Fingers

When tingling fingers due to carpal tunnel become a chronic problem, it can feel like a constant tingle that doesn’t go away. It typically starts from the wrist and can gradually extend up the forearm until it reaches the fingers. It’s like a sharp pins-and-needles kind of tingling sensation. Some patients describe it as almost electric in nature.

It’s quite different from the tingly feeling you get when your hand has fallen asleep or is tired. The tingling from carpal tunnel is persistent, similar to the numbness mentioned above. Usually, if you change your posture or take breaks for rest, the tingling will cease momentarily, only to return later when you use your hands too much.

Weakness in the Hands

Finally, most people experience weakness in their hands. This is especially true if the condition is due to you working a job that requires you to grip something repeatedly. That’s why it’s also quite common in certain sports players, like those who grip tennis rackets, for example.

This pain might vary from one patient to the next. However, experiencing weakness in your hands due to carpal tunnel is like having a constant tremors in your fingers. It’s as though someone’s taken hold of them, and they won’t stay still no matter how much you focus on steadying them.

It’s fundamentally different than the weakness you might feel after lifting something heavy or after you’ve been straining your muscles throughout the day. With carpal tunnel syndrome, the weakness isn’t temporary, so even though you may be ok for some time, the weakness will come back regardless of how hard you focus on avoiding it.

Additionally, the tingling sensation that comes along with carpal tunnel weakness can make turning a doorknob or typing much more difficult. That’s how you know your symptoms are beyond simple tiredness or general pain.

Other Conditions With Similar Symptoms

Just because you might have tingling or numbness in your hands doesn’t automatically mean you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Other conditions have similar symptoms that might mimic those of carpal tunnel. That’s what can make a diagnosis so difficult in some cases. 

For example, muscle weakness, numbness or burning sensations, and tingling are similar symptoms that may look similar to signs of arthritis, bursitis, or even a pinched nerve in the neck. In any case, it’s important to know how these symptoms present in your body. Paying attention to when and how often they occur can help you figure out the root cause.

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel

Even if you have one more of the risk factors mentioned above, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop carpal tunnel. There are lots of things you can do to prevent developing this condition. Or, if you’re already presenting early symptoms, you can ensure the condition doesn’t worsen.

Relax Your Grip

Whether you’re a tennis player, chef, or homemaker, loosening your grip can help relieve pressure on your median nerve. This may sound counterintuitive since the initial thought is to fight through the pain, but loosening your grip and letting your wrist relax can actually help. It’s a simple move that can go a long way toward relieving any tension or discomfort that you might be feeling. 

Take Breaks

Regular breaks from your work tasks can be instrumental in fighting carpal tunnel syndrome. Stretching, resting, and changing the type of task you take can diminish the inflammation that causes this painful condition. Plus, breaks aren’t just good for the body. They’re also great for productivity.

Improve Your Posture

Finally, try to improve your posture. When you roll your shoulders forward, it affects your entire body. Namely, it can lead you to put more stress on your hands and wrists. This is the last thing you want if you already feel early symptoms of carpal tunnel.

Speak With Carpal Tunnel Pros

Are you struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome? You don’t have to struggle alone. At The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we offer a revolutionary carpal tunnel release procedure called No Stitch that requires no sutures. This means you can quickly get back to doing the hobbies and activities you love without the carpal tunnel pain holding you back.
Don’t wait any longer. Call (713) 706-8147 today to schedule an appointment, or click here to get in touch and get healing on the way!

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The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas offers diagnosis and treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow problems in Houston, using the most advanced and minimally invasive medical techniques. Our orthopedic hand specialists and hand and finger surgeons are waiting to provide you with excellent care at one of our hand care centers in River Oaks, Webster, North Houston, Katy/Sugarland, or Baytown

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