Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes & Risks

What are the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?

A Answers (6)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Causes of Carpel Tunnel

    Diabetes and arthritis can cause carpel tunnel syndrome.

    Watch the video to learn more from Dr. Oz about what causes carpel tunnel syndrome.

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  • There are many potential causes for carpal tunnel syndrome, but the in many cases the exact cause is unknown. Anything that puts pressure on the median nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. One thing that can cause this kind of pressure is constant, repetitive movements of the hand and wrist. Using an improperly positioned computer keyboard can also cause tendons in the hands to swell, putting pressure on the median nerve. Sometimes, underlying medical conditions like arthritis, gout, diabetes, and hormonal disorders might lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • AMichael T. Murray, Naturopathic Medicine, answered

    Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is most frequently caused by repetitive minor injury. This injury occurs most commonly in people who perform repetitive, strenuous work with their hands (e.g., carpenters), but may also occur in people who do light work (e.g., typists and keyboard operators). It may follow more serious injuries of the wrist, too. CTS can also be caused by anything that produces inflammation or swelling of the tissues of the wrist, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

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  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the result of a combination of factors that increase pressure on the median nerve and tendons in the carpal tunnel instead of a problem with the nerve itself. The disorder is usually due to a congenital predisposition; the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some people. The other contributing factors include a trauma or injury to the wrist that causes swelling, such as a sprain or a fracture; over-activity of the pituitary gland; hypothyroidism; rheumatoid arthritis; mechanical problems in the wrist joint; work stress; repeated use of vibrating hand tools; fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause; and the development of a cyst or tumor in the canal. In some cases, no cause can be identified.

    There is little clinical data to prove that repetitive and forceful movements of the hand and wrist during work or leisure activities can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeated motions performed in the course of normal work or other daily activities can result in repetitive motion disorders such as bursitis and tendonitis. Writer's cramp -- a condition in which a lack of fine motor skill coordination and achiness and pressure in the fingers, wrist, or forearm are brought on by repetitive activity -- is not a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

    The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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  • AHealthwise answered
    Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a combination of health conditions and activities puts pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. This pressure leads to symptoms. Anything that decreases the amount of space in the carpal tunnel, increases the amount of tissue in the tunnel or increases the sensitivity of the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Things that help cause carpal tunnel syndrome include:

    • Conditions or illnesses that can cause or contribute to arm pain or swelling in the joints and soft tissues in the arm, or to reduced blood flow to the hands. These include obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, lupus, and hypothyroidism.
    • Repeated hand and wrist movements. They can cause the membranes surrounding the tendons to swell (tenosynovitis).
    • Broken wrist bones, dislocated bones, new bone growth from healing bones or bone spurs. These can take up space in the carpal tunnel and put more pressure on the median nerve.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common work-related condition. It can be caused by work that requires:

    • Forceful or repetitive hand movements.
    • Hand-arm vibration.
    • Working for long periods in the same or awkward positions.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is even more likely if you have these work-related issues along with other health conditions.

    In some cases the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be found.

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    • Occupations: The following occupations are associated with a high incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome since they involve repetitive hand activities: food processing, manufacturing, logging (cutting down trees), construction work, violinists, and carpenters. Additionally, long-term typing or computer use may cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, various activities such as golfing, knitting, and gardening may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, some activities of hair dressers, farm and factory workers, and mechanics are also contributors to carpal tunnel syndrome.

      Repetitive use or injury: Repetitive flexing and extending the hands and wrists for long periods of time may increase pressure in the carpal tunnel. Additionally, wrist injury can cause swelling leading to excess pressure on the median nerve.

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