Can cold hands be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome?

cold hands and carpal tunnelIt’s common knowledge that carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands, but many people are surprised to learn that cold hands can also be a symptom of the condition.

How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Can Lead to Cold Hands

The carpal tunnel is a narrow region in the wrist that is located on the side of the palm and protects the median nerve. When there is too much pressure in this area, and the median nerve is compressed, a person develops carpal tunnel syndrome.

Coldness in the hands is due to pressure on the median nerve and a temporary loss of circulation. People with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience cold hands in any weather, but this symptom is generally most noticeable during the winter months.

If you’ve ever used an ice pack on a sprained ankle or another soft tissue injury, you might be wondering why cold hands increase the pain from carpal tunnel syndrome instead of making you feel better. Therapeutic icing is done for 15-20 minutes at a time and is usually alternated with heat therapy. Chronically cold hands occur because blood circulation is being limited through vasoconstriction, which is a normal response of the body to conserve heat. This exacerbates the restricted blood circulation that is already associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Getting Relief From Carpal Tunnel

If you have cold hands due to carpal tunnel syndrome, wearing fingerless gloves to keep your hands and wrists warm may help provide temporary symptom relief. However, if your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms have progressed to the point where the pain is preventing you from doing the activities you enjoy, surgical treatment may be needed. Contact our Towson office to make the right choice for addressing your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

Eric H. Williams MD
Specializing in reconstructive surgery and pain relief in the Greater Baltimore area.