CPAP hand numbness and pain

by Bryan G.
(Cooper City ,Florida USA)

I wake up with both of my hands hurting and i sleep on my back.

The CPAP is set on 12 and I have had the machine a month.


Your problem got my attention, because CPAP hand pain, numbness and tingling exist in few patients with sleep apnea.

Even if these issues are rare, that doesn't mean we should ignore them. On the contrary, I found them to be challenging.

How is it possible that some CPAP users complain of hand pain, numbness or tickling after they start the CPAP therapy, and why these sensations disappear when they stop using their CPAP?

I searched in many scientific and medical studies about the CPAP hand numbness or pain, to understand what is the cause or the risk factor for this issue, but there is almost no information related.

Just when I was close to giving up, I found a medical publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) describing the epidemiologic associations of carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep position.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is primarily caused by repetitive strain of the hands, usually due to performing a task frequently.

This syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve which is located in a "tunnel" in the forearm and wrist, called "carpal tunnel".

Here is a video that explains more about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

The article discusses the possibility of developing hand pain, numbness or tickling due to the abnormal wrist position in patients with sleep disorders. The researchers observed that:

  • CTS and sleep apnea increase in prevalence with the age of the person,

  • like sleep apnea, the CTS is more common in men than women,

  • obesity, which is a risk factor for sleep apnea, has also an influence on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,

  • sleep position can affect sleep apnea and the development of CTS.
In sleep apnea, a person stops breathing in sleep by collapse of the tongue and obstruction of the airway. This happens mostly in that persons is sleeping in the supine position, and is exacerbated by increased body weight and by age.

Sleeping on a side rather than on your back can prevent sleep apnea evens, where almost 90% of normal weight people have a good response to this sleep position change.

That's why positional therapy for sleep apnea is recognized as one of the best alternatives to CPAP or dental devices.

However, there is a catch here! The article mentions that sleeping on the side is related to positioning the wrist in flexion or extension, which could be a casual pathway for nerve compression.

Bottom line... Sleep position has been suggested as a direct mechanism in nerve compression, which will cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

People with sleep apnea can be at risk of developing hand pain, numbness or tickling (CTS) if they:

  • have a higher BMI - an obese or overweight person may search for comfort in the cervical spine or back causing him to sleep on his side,

  • are older,

  • sleeping on the side - people who sleep on their side more than other persons are more prone to Carpel Tunnel Syndrome,

  • pregnant women.
As you can see, I didn't find any information that mentions a relationship between CPAP and CTS. The only explanation might be that you're spending more time in REM sleep recovering your sleep debt from sleep apnea. In REM sleep, your body doesn't move much.

I found that hand pain can also be caused by fibromyalgia, which is a syndrome that affects your soft tissues, muscles and tendons.

Many people with sleep apnea also have fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, it's hard to diagnose it, and though it may be suspected, it takes an average of five years to reach a diagnosis.

Although the onset of fibromyalgia can be gradual, it can sudden appear after a traumatic event in your life, such as severe ilness (severe sleep apnea) or injury.

For your hand pain or numbness, I recommend visiting a rheumatologist, your primary doctor and your sleep doctor.

You need an inspection from your doctor, because other surprising health problems can cause your hand pain. One of them that I'm thinking can be Gout.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for CPAP hand numbness and pain

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Nov 26, 2015
Tingling in both hands since using CPAP machine.
by: Jean

I didn't start having this problem until I started using the machine. Matter of fact I had no indications of sleep apnea, they just based it on qualifications for a DOT medical card. Suspect being over 50, overweight, over neck size, and taking bp medicine. They told me it was severe however it took them a month to get me hooked up with a machine. Didn't sound so severe to me. I actually had to get nasty with them to move forward. Nonetheless, now I have this problem which is causing me more problems then sleep apnea ever did. If I were paranoid I would believe they were trying to kill me. It does make me believe that there is something more to this then they want you to know. Bottom line this is a problem and I'm certain it's related and not just a coincidence.

Sep 13, 2015
Oxygen With Your CPAP Machine
by: Don

When I first started using my CPAP machine, I was deficient in oxygen during sleep and so I DID have oxygen. There is a fitting were your hose hooks to the CPAP machine, it has an inlet for a tube that is run from the Oxygen generator.

Dec 13, 2014
Hand numbness while using cpap
by: Ranjum

I've been using CPAP since a week now. I experienced numbness in my left hand on two occasions, each one on a different night. No matter any side I slept it happened. I also felt that I swallowed a lot of air. Can anyone comment on th the above mentioned issues?

Mar 12, 2014
Deep breathing stops hand numbness
by: Ron DeSpain

I've been on cpap for years (10+) and have recently retired and am sleeping more hours lately (8-10).

I recently started getting Carpel Tunnel Syndrom numbness in my hands after 8 hrs of sleep. Sleep is fine. I am a side sleeper, arm under pillow, and am overweight (6ft tall 260lbs), however this has been the case for over 10 years, so the only change is the length of sleeping, and of course, getting older (70).

I awake with painful numbness in either the thumb and next two fingers (a wrist tunnel pinch), or the little pinky and the next finger (an elbow tunnel pinch).

I can stop the numbness by either massaging the proper tunnel, or just breathing deeply for several breaths. I'm thinking I'm not getting enough oxygen because breathing fixes it, and I don't want surgery if I can help it.

Does anyone know of a way to add oxygen to the cpap machine to see if that helps?

Thank You

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