Often resulting in pain in the forearm and hand
It may not be Carpal Tunnel syndrome (CTS). Although carpal tunnel syndrome is common, it is not the only cause of numbness, tingling, and pain in the forearm and hand. Most of the lay public and some of the medical community are not aware of other causes, so numbness, tingling and pain may be mistakenly thought to be coming from carpal tunnel syndrome (go to the CTS section of this website). These symptoms can be caused by many other conditions.
Local pressure on a nerve (“compression neuropathy”) causes numbness in distinct patterns that follow the area supplied by that nerve (see diagrams). Also, the muscles that are controlled by the compressed nerve may exhibit weakness, wasting, or twitching. The pressure may come from injury, thickened muscles, bands of connective tissue, enlarged blood vessels, ganglion cysts, or arthritic spurs. Ulnar nerve compression at the wrist causes numbness and tingling of the little finger, part of the ring finger, and the little finger side (ulnar side) of the palm. Ulnar nerve compression at the elbow causes not only the numbness noted above, but also numbness on the back of the ulnar side of the hand. Pressure on the radial nerve in the forearm or above the wrist can cause numbness over the back of the thumb, the index finger, and the web between these two digits. If the median nerve is compressed at or just below the elbow, numbness is felt not only in the same area as in CTS but also over the palm at the base of the thumb. Compression neuropathies may require surgery to release pressure on the nerve(s) to get relief.