Here's what you need to know about the causes of carpal tunnel.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is usually the result of problems with the wrist’s median nerve according to the Mayo Clinic, can be attributed to a number of causes. Nerves pass through a structure of bone and ligaments at the base of the hand – the carpal tunnel – and damage to this structure or the nerves themselves leads to discomfort or limited mobility. Because the median nerve runs through the forearm and up through the hand, carpal tunnel can cause nerve pain and limited functionality of the thumb and palm area.
Anything that affects this nerve, such as compression or irritation, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Understanding the causes is important for preventing and limiting issues related to the ailment. Here are some of the most common risk-factors associated with carpal tunnel:
Researchers from the department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, in Seattle, WA found that carpal tunnel syndrome can be a hereditary disorder. While it is uncommon among younger patients, children showing symptoms of the ailment likely have an abnormal or missing carpal ligament. This has been linked to family history of carpal tunnel, suggesting it is passed from generation to generation.
There are other natural causes of carpal tunnel. The National Health Service found that hypothyroidism, an imbalance or lack of thyroid hormones can create problems that extend to the musculoskeletal system. An over-active pituitary gland can also cause issues that affect mobility and motor skills. This can lead to or exacerbating carpal tunnel.
An injury can also damage the median nerve and worsen carpal tunnel syndrome. A sprain, fracture or instance of swelling can create discomfort or limited dexterity, and without healing properly, this in turn can contribute to carpal tunnel.
The same swelling and inflammation of joints and tendons caused by arthritis causes pain and the symptoms of carpal tunnel. Overtime, damage from arthritis can lead to structural compression of the median nerve and other structures in the wrist. In this instance, pain and problems with mobility become more frequent, and carpal tunnel syndrome can take hold. Unlike short-term instances of discomfort, actual damage can be much more difficult to treat.
Along with medical complications, day-to-day behaviors can increase the risk of carpal tunnel. Physical labor, using mechanical tools and repeated stress to the wrist can cause irreversible damage. Protective equipment is required to mitigate risk associated with these sorts of jobs.
“Day-to-day behaviors can increase the risk of carpal tunnel.”
Desk jobs and less physically demanding occupations still carry the possibility of developing carpal tunnel. Several disorders, including bursitis, tendonitis and writer’s cramp have been associated with repetitive activities such as typing on a keyboard of filling out paperwork. The Imak RSI Smart Glove can be used to support the wrist and reduce the amount of strain.
Along with taking frequent breaks and monitoring any problems closely, this can be used to limit any problems related to carpal tunnel. Understanding the hazards associated with a job is important for preventing any issues, and workers should be cognizant and proactive about any risks they may face.
Pregnancy or menopause
Women may notice tingling or numbness in their hands during either pregnancy or menopause which can be caused by carpal tunnel. This is a rather common phenomenon, according to the NHS. Fluid called oedema can build up in tissues around the wrists and other parts of the body. This imbalance puts new pressure on the median nerve that connects the wrist, hand and thumb, creating pain, discomfort and limited mobility. Often this problem subsides when the pregnancy ends or menopause is over.