In my experience, patients have symptoms of pain before they actually have numbness. They can have pain in the wrist and/or forearm. The numbness is one of the last stages, when the inflammation has encroached on the small space where the median nerve runs.
Carpal Tunnel can be treated with therapeutic massage, Acupuncture, ice and B6. I start with deep tissue massage techniques and have the patient ice at home. If this does not resolve the issue, the next step is acupuncture and B6. So far, I have not had a patient that needed surgery. There have even been some cases where the patient was scheduled for surgery and was able to cancel. Every case is different, and not everyone can avoid surgery, but if it were me, my family or friends, I would try this before surgery. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. I always offer a free consultation.