Hand Numbness and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses hand numbness and carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses hand numbness and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Numbness of the hands is a very common symptom. It can affect one or both hands. It can be continuous or it can be intermittent.

Certain precipitating factors such as elevating the hands, using the hands or wakening from sleep with numbness in the hands may indicate a specific cause. Probably the most common cause of hand numbness is carpal tunnel syndrome, or compression of the nerve to the hand in the wrist.

The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist formed by ligaments and bones, through which tendons and nerves flow out to the hand. Compression of the nerve in the carpal tunnel typically produces numbness in the fingers, especially the first three digits of the hand, or possibly the ring finger as well.

Occasionally in more severe situations, there can be numbness as well as weakness, and patients may complain that they’re dropping objects or having difficulty feeling things.

This is commonly seen in individuals who use their hands a lot for a living, who work in supermarket checkouts, for example, or who use vibrating equipment on the construction site, for example.

The assessment of hand numbness should be done by a physician. If you have concerns about numbness of your hands, you should speak to your family doctor, who may refer you to a neurologist for further assessment.

The assessment of carpal tunnel syndrome typically involves a history and clinical examination performed by the neurologist, followed by nerve conduction studies or EMG testing, which objectively tests the ability of the nerves in the hand to conduct information.

If you think you have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, or hand numbness, it’s important to discuss this with your family doctor.


Presenter: Dr. Dean Johnston, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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