Carpenter Hand Pain

Carpenter Hand Pain
Carpenter hand pain

Carpenter Hand Pain

Last week, a contractor reached out to me about carpenter hand pain. His dad, a carpenter, has numbness and intense tingling in his hands, and getting progressively worse. The contractor said that while his dad was strong as an ox and in good shape, the years of using heavy power hand tools seemed to have done some damage. He was concerned and asked for my opinion.

What Causes Carpenter Hand Pain?

I can’t stress enough that it is impossible to accurately diagnose a hand condition over the phone. However, I shared what I see regularly with carpenters, craftsmen and others who work with their hands and heavy power tools: vibration white finger, cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Vibration White Finger

Vibration white finger can be caused by reduced blood flow to the hands. Reduced blood flow from vibration white finger can lead to nerve, muscle, bone, and joint damage.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve, or “funny bone” nerve, is compressed or stretched.  Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause weakness in the hand, numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers, or pain in the forearm.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
While carpenter’s hand pain may be caused by vibration white finger or cubital tunnel syndrome, more often the culprit is carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed or pinched. Acute injuries such as fractures or swelling of the tendon lining (tenosynovitis) may put pressure on the median nerve. In older craftsmen, arthritis and repetitive motions with heavy, vibrating tools are can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • numbness and tingling to the hand, mostly in the thumb, index and long finger
  • swelling of the hand
  • pain in the hand shooting up the wrist
  • difficulty distinguishing hot from cold
  • clumsiness or difficulty with fine motor activities

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Like Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I always encourage my patients who work with power tools to review and modify their activity, as well as to replace old equipment with modern, ergonomic tools that have vibration suppression.

In cases where damage has been done, conservative first steps may include bracing,  non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen, or corticosteroid injections.

In cases where conservative treatments fail to relieve numbness or pain in your hand, surgical treatment might be necessary. As I discussed in an earlier blog post on wide Awake Hand surgery,  carpal tunnel surgery can be a 10-15 minute outpatient procedure. When you come in for a consultation, we can talk to you about what’s best for your particular situation.  

Get an Accurate Diagnosis

There’s no substitute for an accurate diagnosis. Carpenter hand pain and numbness isn’t just from old age and hard work. And we don’t have to just live with it. If you work with your hands and experience these symptoms, schedule an appointment today at our Metairie or Boutte clinics as soon as possible. The days of numb fingers and dropping tools may be a thing of the past sooner than you think. Contact my office today to request an appointment.


This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.