Good Hand Health Tips

The Three Stages of Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

Did you know woman over 50 are three times more likely to have Carpal Tunnel symptoms than a man? Approximately half a million Americans undergo a Carpal Tunnel Release surgery every year. Its goal is to create more space within the Carpal Tunnel for the median nerve. According to the Orthopedic Surgical guidelines both non-surgical and surgical options have excellent outcomes.1 Generally, the sooner Carpal Tunnel symptoms are treated, the less likely surgery is needed.carpal tunnel, hand anatomy

Hi, I’m Coach Cathy. I remember how I felt when I realized my Carpal Tunnel symptoms could cause permanent median nerve damage. I also remember how overwhelmed I felt not knowing if my symptoms were really Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or something else. I was reluctant to see a doctor because I thought surgery was the only solution.

However, weighing the alternative of permanent nerve damage in my hand versus getting help, I mustered up my courage and reached out for a diagnosis.

Starting with the correct diagnosis is the first step. Even if you think your Carpal Tunnel symptoms will go away on their own, seeing a qualified healthcare provider can relieve or confirm your suspicions. It’s a starting point. What you do with the information can be sorted out later. The important piece here is to do something. A diagnosis relieves your worse case scenario fears and tells you where you are in the progression of symptoms.

I started with my family physician. Her assessment and treatment plan were vague so I went to an orthopedic hand specialist, Dr Sagini. With his good diagnostic tests, I knew I had a mild case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and tendonitis. In a later interview with Dr. Sagini, here’s what he said about the three stages of Carpal Tunnel symptoms:2

Stage 1 – Mild Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel

“Initially people have numbness and tingling mainly at night. When the symptoms are mild, the disease process is usually reversible.”

Symptoms may include:
  • Numbness or tingling on the palm side of the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands – the little finger is not affected
  • Clumsiness of the hand when gripping objects
  • Pain extending to the elbow
  • Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
  • Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags

Stage 2 – Moderate Symptoms of CT

“When the symptoms are moderate – in that people notice the symptoms both at night as well as during the day time while doing things like driving or talking on the phone or having difficulty with getting dressed, buttoning, holding small objects, that’s when the disease process is more moderate. When the disease process is moderate, we usually can reverse it such that an individual can return to normal function.”

Stage 3 – Severe Symptoms of CT

“Once the disease process is severe and we’ve lost muscle function, there’s muscles atrophy, there’s constant numbness, sometimes that disease process has reached a point where even with surgical management we’re not able to return someone back to their normal function.”

Dr Sagini’s takeaway was this:

The best course of action with any symptoms suggestive of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to address these symptoms early and completely. The ideal way I recommend people treat most conditions whether it be nerve compression, tendonitis, arthritis, is actively. By actively I mean, if there is something you can do as an individual to reduce the symptoms and not require surgical intervention, that’s the best way of creating long-term success.”

At Carpal Tunnel Coaching we believe it’s reassuring and useful to have a physician diagnose your problem and rule-out other conditions. Regardless of your condition our online video program helps you make better choices on hand and wrist care.

To your good hand health,
Coach Cathy

P.S. For more self-care tips now, sign up for the free guide to COOL TOOLS FOR FAST RELIEF. Do you see the sign-in box at the top of this page?


emedicine.medscape.com/article/1243192-overviewOrthopedic Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Last updated: Oct 7,2014.
SaginiMD.com Joint Implant Surgeons. Fort Myers, FL. Private conversation with Dennis Sagini, M.D.. May 7, 2014.

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