Why Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain Worse at Night?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, about three in 1,000 people develop carpal tunnel syndrome each year. Most of them are between the ages of 40 and 70 years old, many do work that involves physical labor, and more of them are women than men. If you’re experiencing tingling, numbness, or pain in your hand at night, you may be one of them.

How carpal tunnel syndrome develops

The nerves that allow your hand and fingers to move and signal sensation to your brain run through your wrist, through a passageway called the carpal tunnel.  Located on the inside of your wrist and the base of your hand, the carpal tunnel is surrounded by bones and tissues that protect it.

When the tissues that are supposed to protect the tendons and nerves inside the carpal tunnel swell up and become inflamed, they can put pressure on the median nerve. When that happens, you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

The early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may seem odd more than anything else. You may feel the tingling, pins and needles sensation of your hand falling asleep, often at night or early in the morning.

Over time, that sensation may become painful, especially in your thumb and middle three fingers. Eventually, those parts of your hand may also become numb. You may also begin having pain in your whole hand that radiates up your arm.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often associated with work because repetitive motions can cause it. If you work on an assembly line or you’re a carpenter, you’re more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than the general population. Hobbies that involve repetitive motions, like knitting or golfing, may also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

You may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of an injury. If the tissues in your wrist are over-extended, for example, they may swell and put pressure on your median nerve. There is also some evidence that some people are simply genetically predisposed to develop the condition.

Why the pain is worse at night

You may first notice symptoms at night, and you may find that the symptoms are worse at night. You may even lose sleep because of carpal tunnel syndrome, which leaves you vulnerable to numerous health risks. Sleep is important!

There are a few reasons that carpal tunnel symptoms may be worse at night than during the day, but it’s likely that you sleep with your wrist curled. Most people do.

You may sleep with your hand curled under your chin or under your head. Either way, it’s likely that it’s a position that increases the pressure on the already-inflamed tissues surrounding your carpal tunnel.

Another possibility is that the activities you do during the day increase the inflammation in your wrist, so that by the time you go to bed, the tissues are more swollen and inflamed than at any other point during the day. The wear-and-tear during the day can leave you dealing with pain at night.

Treatment for carpal tunnel

Depending on the severity of your condition, several possible treatment options are available. Wearing a wrist splint at night is usually the first line of treatment and may be enough if you have mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you have more severe carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor at Orthopaedic Podiatric and Spine Institute may suggest hand surgery. Surgery can reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome by relieving the pressure on the median nerve.

If you’re experiencing tingling, pain, or numbness in your hand or wrist frequently, book an appointment online or by phone for a consultation with an expert at Orthopaedic Podiatric and Spine Institute. The earlier you get care for carpal tunnel syndrome, the better your outcome is likely to be.

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