Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Vs. Pain Referral From The Neck

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Numbness, pain, and tingling in the hands and wrists are common symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and/or from nerve impingement in the neck. However, there are ways to tell each condition apart, as well as differing treatments. Patients in our practice seem to be presenting more and more with symptoms related to both these conditions, so here is some insight.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve compression, is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and/ or weakness in the wrists and hands. The median nerve travels through the wrist, and controls feeling and sensation in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and part of the ring finger. The remaining part of the ring finger and hand are usually unaffected. Pain can occasionally occur in the forearm and even up into the shoulder. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are usually worse at night or with repetitive use of that hand and wrist.

Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Often, people don’t know what brought on their carpal tunnel syndrome. It can be due to:

  • Repetitive motions, like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over. This is especially true of things you do when your hands are lower than your wrists.
  • Conditions like hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes



Pain Referring from the Neck (Cervical Radiculopathy)


Cervical Radiculopathy is often referred to as a pinched nerve and is when a nerve root in the neck becomes inflamed or damaged from being compressed. This changes how the nerve functions, and can cause various symptoms such as; pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, altered reflexes, pins-and-needles, or burning, anywhere from the neck, shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. 

Common causes of cervical radiculopathy

  • Degenerative changes: In middle-aged people, normal degenerative changes in the discs can cause pressure on nerve roots. 

  • Injury: cervical radiculopathy is often the result of a ruptured disc. Disks often herniate with activity, such as when you bend, lift, twist, or pull. When you herniate a disk, its material then compresses or inflames the nerve root.




A physical assessment will be done at first to assess the median nerve (carpel tunnel) and the neck (cervical radiculopathy). Sometimes it is obvious which condition it is and the diagnosis can be made clinically. However, you might be referred to the appropriate specialist if required.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please contact us at Physiotherapy Bedfordview.

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