Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition affecting the hands. Patients typically say that they wake up at night with a feeling of pins and needles in their fingers, like their hand is asleep. They commonly shake their hands out to relive the symptoms. As the problem progresses, their hands will go numb when they drive, talk on the phone, or do their hair. As the problem becomes more severe, they will eventually report constant numbness in their fingers.
All of the nerves that go to the hand originate from the spinal cord at the neck level. The median nerve goes down the arm and crosses the wrist under a ligament called the transverse carpal ligament. This nerve then gives sensation to the thumb, index and long finger, as well as half the ring finger. Watch this 2-minute animation to learn more about how carpal tunnel affects your hand.