10 Risk Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

According to the AFP Journal, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common entrapment neuropathy, afflicting about 3 out of 6 adults all over the world. Likewise known as median nerve compression, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your fingers or entire hand suffers a weakening, numbing, and tingling sensation. It occurs due to pressure on the median nerve, which goes through the wrist and eventually leads to the hand. 

So, just what causes this condition?…

1. Biological Sex


CTS is generally more common in women, since their carpal tunnel areas are relatively smaller in women than in men. This size makes them more vulnerable to pressure.  Some women may also have smaller carpal tunnels than others who don’t have the condition.

The chances of women developing CTS increase as they age…

2. Menopause


New York-based orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Debra Parisi hypothesizes that estrogen may be linked to the development of CTS. Specifically, she and others believe that estrogen may help protect blood vessels. As women age, the median nerve starts to receive less blood and oxygen to the nerves from the small blood vessels. Hence, the median nerve becomes prone to pressure due to lower levels of protective estrogen.

Our next factor puts us at higher risk for CTS…

3. Wrist Injuries


Suffering injuries, such as wrist fractures and dislocations, can affect and deform the small bones in the wrist. These injuries, in turn, can create pressure on the median nerve.

The following likewise amplifies pressure on this sensitive nerve…

4. Nerve-Damaging Conditions 


Diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease all cause severe nerve damage, which can ultimately affect the median nerve as a result. As such, CTS often accompanies these conditions.

Like these nerve-related illnesses, inflammation of certain tissues can trigger CTS…

5. Inflammatory Conditions

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Chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can affect the lining around the wrist tendons and cause pressure on your median nerve. According to a study from Brazilian physicians, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can increase the risk of CTS by up to four times.

Having an excess production of hormones can likewise endanger the body’s nerves…

6. Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)

Emily frost/Shutterestock.com

CTS is sometimes present in cases of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), especially when left untreated. Left untreated, it can cause fluid buildup, which can affect the nerves located in the arms and legs—including the median nerve.

When the body fails to filter out waste, it disrupts the blood’s chemical makeup, and consequently, the nerves as well…

7. Kidney Disease


A research article published by the Journal of Nephrology and Therapeutics shows that CTS is often present in chronic hemodialysis patients. Another study attributes this fact to the deposition of microglobulin in patients who are undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Whatever the reason, there appears to be some sort of link between kidney disease and CTS.

Sometimes, the remedies we take can have harmful effects on the body…

8. Medications


The chemical properties of drugs can cause adverse effects on our bodies. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology discovered that anastrozole, a drug used to treat breast cancer, has been linked to the rise of CTS. 

Weight can also be at play in developing carpal tunnel syndrome…

9. Obesity


Being overweight or obese increase a person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Having an increase in body mass or weight increases fluid buildup in the tissue spaces in the carpal tunnel area.

External factors can put you at heightened risk more than any other…

10. Workplace Conditions


Occupational hazards such as working with vibrating tools, heavy use of the computer keyboard/mouse, or a job that requires extreme flexing of the wrist can cause pressure on the median nerve and cause swelling around the wrists, which signal the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.

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