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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Most Common Causes

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Neetan Sachdeva 86% (38 ratings)
DNB - Orthopedics, Diploma In Orthopaedics, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Fellowship In Rheumatology & Joint Dosorder
Orthopedic Doctor, Delhi  •  22 years experience
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Most Common Causes

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness or tingling in the hands and arms besides other symptoms. Carpal tunnel is basically a narrow passage on the palm side of the wrist. This condition is caused when a nerve in the carpel tunnel is compressed. Since this median nerve runs up through the hands to the forearm, it affects the arms as well. Not only does it cause nerve pain, but also results in limited functionality of the thumb.

To prevent this syndrome, one needs to understand its causes. We have discussed some of the primary causes below:

  1. Issues with the thyroid hormone: Hypothyroidism, an imbalance or lack of thyroid hormones in the body, can create problems that lead to issues with the overall musculoskeletal system. An over-active pituitary gland can also cause issues that affect mobility and motor skills. This can lead to or exacerbate the carpal tunnel syndrome.
  2. Arthritis: Arthritis causes swelling and inflammation of joints and tendons, which tend to increase the symptoms of carpal tunnel. Eventually, arthritis can also lead to compression of the median nerve and other structures in the wrist, thereby leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  3. Pregnancy or menopause: During pregnancy as well as menopause, women experience tingling or numbness in their hands, which is believed to be caused by carpal tunnel. Experts say that when a fluid called oedema builds up in the tissues around the wrists and other parts of the body, it puts a pressure on the median nerve, leading to pain.
  4. Work pressure: Experts believe that behaviours can increase the risk of carpal tunnel. The other instances which cause this syndrome include physical labour, using mechanical tools and repeated stress to the wrist. However, various studies suggest that there isn’t any direct association between using a computer and carpal tunnel syndrome. It may just cause different forms of hand pain.
  5. Imbalance of body fluids: Fluid retention in the body increases the pressure within the carpal tunnel, which irritates the median nerve. This is common during pregnancy and menopause as discussed earlier.
  6. Obesity: One of the significant risk factors for this syndrome is being obese. So be careful about gaining excess weight.
  7. Other conditions: Certain conditions like hormonal imbalance, diabetes and kidney failure may increase the chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. It also occurs in people who usually have narrow carpel tunnels. In some cases, it is inherited and is passed from one generation to the next.
  8. Inflammatory conditions: Illnesses that end up in inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the lining around the tendons in the wrist and put pressure on the median nerve.
  9. Fractures: A fracture in the wrist can cause narrowing of the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve.

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