Fingers tingle or go numb? May (or may not) be Carpal Tunnel.

Think you have CTS? (Carpal Tunnel)

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) tends to be the go-to self-diagnosis for anyone who’s feeling persistent pain, tingling, or numbness in their fingers. That’s unsurprising when you consider all of the attention on ergonomics, pain from bad computing habits, and so on. A true carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis is a little more specific because it has to do with the median nerve.

Your median nerve is also called the “laborer’s nerve.” While it’s only one of three main nerves that send and receive information up and down your arms, it’s the main nerve for the front of your forearm. You may assume that because you do a lot of repetitive motion at work, you’re suffering from CTS. While that can be the case, CTS can stem from many causes: oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, trauma, obesity, and lipomas.

Median Nerve Compression

What’s happening is that that median nerve is being compressed right at the wrist, causing disease or damage. Think about all the nerves that have to get down to your fingers – all go through the “tunnel” of your wrist (carpal) bones. You’ll notice numbness, pain, and tingling in your fingers and thumbs and think,

“Oh, I must have carpal tunnel syndrome.”

Oddly enough, when I go through the diagnostic process before we dive into a Rolfing treatment program, I discover that all the issues are actually happening in areas not fed by the median nerve, but others.

They’re surprised to learn that the nerve entrapment most people believe to be CTS is actually coming from much further up the arm. It can even be from nerves weaving their way through the collarbone on the way to our necks, the most common place nerves get entrapped.

Right now, so many people have been in unusual work-from-home setups that I’m seeing more nerve compression and muscle issues than I have in a while. Carpal tunnel is a really familiar term to most people, so when I get a call saying, “My CTS is acting up” I’m not immediately going to suggest anything that’s specific to CTS. Because it may or may not be carpal tunnel.

Are you wondering now just what that pins-and-needles or numbness is? Let’s schedule a Rolfing appointment either in Tacoma or Bellevue so we can find the real culprit and get you moving freely again.