I have intermittent numbness and tingling in my fingers. How do I know if this is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Numbness can be caused from a variety of reasons from nerve compression to metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness or pain in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and a portion of the ring finger. It occurs when there is compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist. Common risk factors are gender (women), pregnancy, endocrine disorders such as diabetes or thyroid disease, obesity, and 40-60 year old age group. Symptoms can be exacerbated at night due to sleeping positions. Initial treatment consist of anti-inflammatories, night bracing and steroid injections. In the presence of severe compression or when non-operative treatment fails to obtain relief, surgery may be needed to release the band of tissue that is pinching the nerve. Electrodiagnostic studies are used to confirm location of nerve compression is at the level of the wrist and not the spine. If the location of the numbness is in the small finger and a portion of the ring finger it may be a different nerve called the ulnar nerve that is being pinched at the elbow. Some of the differential diagnoses for carpal tunnel syndrome are median nerve compression not at the wrist, cervical nerve compression, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis, or tendonitis