Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I have a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand and I am right-handed. I seem to be able to grasp and pick up objects. But I can't keep hold of them. So, I'm dropping everything from a cup of coffee to the newspaper. Is this a typical problem with carpal tunnel? Or do I have something else going on?

Answer:

There's no doubt that carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) changes the way your hand functions. Clumsiness, loss of pinch strength, and decreased coordination are often reported. Loss of normal sensation from skin, joints, and tendons makes manual finger tasks more difficult. Studies show that when comparing CTS patients with normal adults, people with CTS use greater force of the thumb to grip while holding objects. This appears to be the result of a combination of factors. There's a decrease in muscle strength, impaired coordination, and numbness (when present) to consider. Thumb-to-index finger coordination is most likely to be a problem. Without an accurate tip-to-tip thumb-finger pinch, handling objects becomes increasingly harder to do successfully (without dropping the item). A program of strengthening and sensory input may help. Change in dexterity from severe, chronic CTS may require a more aggressive approach. Surgery may be needed to release the band of tissue over the carpal tunnel area and decompress (take pressure off) the nerve. A rehab program with a hand therapist will help you return to your former level of function. Sebastian Gehrmann, MD, et al. Variability of Precision Pinch Movements Caused By Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. September 2008. Vol. 33A. No. 7. Pp. 1069-1075.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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