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Are Your Hands Keeping You Awake at Night? It Might Be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Dr. Rachel Rohde

See if this sounds familiar: you finally drift off to sleep, only to awaken in the middle of the night again with that dreaded feeling of your hands on fire! Does it sometimes seem that your hands are falling (and staying) asleep better than the rest of you? You might have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, or a burning feeling in your hand caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. This nerve most commonly gives sensation to your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers, as well as supplying the muscles that control your thumb.

More common in women, carpal tunnel syndrome can be associated with a variety of health conditions, including thyroid problems, diabetes, and pregnancy. Sometimes attributed to repetitive activity, recent studies suggest that keyboard use is not the cause. Because the nerve runs up into the palm, however, leaning your wrists on a keyboard or support cushion can put pressure on your nerve.

Night symptoms are very common because we tend to curl our wrists at night, putting even more pressure on the nerve. For this reason, nighttime wrist splints might help your symptoms. Other treatment options are aimed at decreasing pressure on the nerve; these include steroid injections and carpal tunnel release, a procedure done under local anesthesia.

See your orthopaedic surgeon to see what treatment option is best for you.

For more information on carpal tunnel visit OrthoInfo.org.

Beaumont Health System/Michigan Orthopaedic Institute
Royal Oak, Michigan