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Can Carpal Tunnel Affect Your Elbow?

man with elbow painCarpal tunnel syndrome affects millions of Americans, causing pain, tingling and other symptoms in your fingers, hand, wrist, and/or elbow.

In this blog, orthopedic physicians at Mirza Orthopedics explain more about this syndrome, including its effects on your body and life.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome, and how does it affect your overall life?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in your wrist becomes pressed or squeezed. The carpal tunnel refers to ligament and bone at the base of your hand that lines the median nerve and tendons. This nerve goes from the forearm into the palm of your hand, providing movement and feeling to your thumb and your first three fingers.

When your median nerve is compressed, it can cause tingling, numbness, and pain in your hand, forearm, wrist, or elbow. Gripping objects or performing activities that cause you to bend your wrist can make the pain and other symptoms worse. Everyday tasks may become harder as you find it more difficult to hold objects such as a fork or use your thumb to perform simple tasks such as opening a jar.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

In some cases, its cause can’t be determined. However, it can often be traced to one or more of the following causes:

  • Health conditions – including obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus – that can cause arm pain or swelling or reduce the flow of blood to your hands.
  • Aging-related wear and tear of the tissues in your hand and wrist
  • Repeated hand and wrist movements
  • Bone spurs or broken or dislocated bones
  • Smoking, which can reduce blood flow to the median nerve
  • Growths such as tumors

How common is this syndrome?

It affects from 4 to 10 million Americans and may be the most common nerve disorder.

The syndrome is about three times more common in women when compared to men, and it’s more likely to affect middle-aged or older people, although it can happen to younger people as well.

What are its symptoms?

Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause the following symptoms:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Itching
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • A pins-and-needles sensation
  • A feeling that your fingers are swollen, even though they don’t look that way
  • Problems with grip strength
  • Difficulty picking items up
  • Inability to tell hot from cold by touch

Can carpal tunnel syndrome affect your elbow?

Although you may think of this syndrome as affecting your hands, fingers, and wrist, the pain can also extend to your elbow. A similar condition called cubital tunnel syndrome can also cause pain or tingling in your elbow when your ulnar nerve is irritated or damaged.

If you’re experiencing pain or tingling in your hand, fingers, wrist, or elbow, make an appointment today with Mirza Orthopedics. We’ll diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend the most effective treatment possible to help you return to your active life, free of pain. If surgery to correct carpal tunnel syndrome is needed, we offer a cutting-edge, minimally invasive procedure that was developed by Dr. Ather Mirza. It results in a better outcome with less pain, a smaller scar, and quicker recovery.

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