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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    35 years @ the coalface of clinical practice.Phenomenological bent.Specializing in the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal pain, restriction and disability. View Profile

    The most common symptom is tingling in the fingers.  If you press  with your thumb on the palm side of the affected hand where it meets the wrist you can usually make the tingling worse.
    If there is any pain travelling up the arm to the neck or if your arm is falling asleep during the night it could be coming from the neck.

  • Neil Synnott

    Exercise Physiologist, Physiotherapist

    I am qualified as a PHYSIOTHERAPIST and ACCREDITED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST.I primarily use the McKENZIE METHOD for assessment and management of musculoskeletal pain disorders. The McKENZIE … View Profile

    Hi all,

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is essentially a median nerve related problem.

    Symptoms include pain, pins and needles and if severe weakness of the thumb and first two and half fingers. 

    As Dr Derkenne highlights, the neck can be a significant source of other early signs related to carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Look at a diagram of the nerves that serve the arm…The median nerve comes from the neck and travels all the way down to the hand. So, neck, upper back,  shoulder, elbow and wrist pain may be early warning signs that the median nerve is not moving very well. Decreased neck movement and median nerve movement help explain why some people have carpal tunnel release surgery and symptoms are not improved.

    Having a full assessment of neck and upper back movement as well as upper limb nerve movement by a reputable physiotherapist is very important. By the time a general practitioner gets a electrodiagnostic study showing the median nerve conduction rate is slower than normal, the median nerve may well have been a bit stuck for quite a while… So early management is best!!

    Best wishes, Neil

  • 1


    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical … View Profile

    The most common symptoms are pain and numbness or tingling of the fingers and hand. People often complain that their affected hand feels clumsy and you may have trouble picking up small objects. You may wake at night with pain in the hands, wrist or up the arm. You may wake up with pain and shake your hands to try to get rid of the pain. The symptoms may also be exacerbated by activities where the wrist is flexed, such as driving. In severe, longstanding cases there may be wasting (shrinkage) of the muscles at the base of the thumb.

    In many instances the condition can be diagnosed on the basis of these classic symptoms and signs. Sometimes the diagnosis is unclear, in which case your doctor will recommend that you have nerve conduction studies to see if your symptoms are from carpal tunnel syndrome or if your symptoms are due to something else.

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