Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

At first, you may brush off your symptoms, not realizing that the pins and needles in your hand when you wake up in the morning are the early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. After all, the tingling and numbness goes away with a few shakes of your wrist.

But over time, you may not be able to shake off the sensations, or your symptoms may appear during other times of the day, like when you’re gripping the steering wheel or holding a book.  

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common pain condition that often develops without any inciting injury or obvious cause. At Orthopedic & Wellness, our experienced physicians — Dr. Ojedapo‌ ‌Ojeyemi ‌and‌ ‌Dr. Matthew Roh — are experts at diagnosing and treating carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s what you should know about carpal tunnel and common causes.  

About your carpal tunnel

The carpal tunnel is an inch-wide ridged passageway in your wrist made up of bones and ligaments. Your median nerve, which is the main sensory and motor nerve in your hand, passes through the carpal tunnel into your hand.

Compression or pinching of the median nerve by your carpal tunnel causes the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Over time, the pressure from the carpal tunnel damages the nerve, worsening your symptoms.

Common causes of carpal tunnel

Pressure or pinching of your median nerve by your carpal tunnel causes this pain condition. But the inciting incident that leads to carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t always clear and often develops from more than one cause.

Some of the factors linked to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

Genetics

Your genetics determines your anatomic structure — or how your body is put together. Many people with carpal tunnel syndrome have family traits that increase their risk of developing this pain condition, like a smaller than normal carpal tunnel. 

Hand and wrist activities

Repetitive movements of your hand or wrist may cause inflammation and swelling of the tendons in your wrist, compressing the nerve. Overflexing or overextending the joint may also cause nerve compression and your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

Underlying health conditions

People with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid problems are at greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Injury

You may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome after an injury, such as a wrist fracture. 

Workplace activities 

Though there’s some evidence that certain workplace activities may play a role in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, such as assembly line work that requires repetitive wrist movements, research is conflicting, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Getting help for your carpal tunnel

Though we may not always be able to identify the underlying cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome, we can help you get relief from your symptoms and prevent permanent nerve damage. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends you start treatment as early as possible. 

Initially, we take a conservative approach to care and recommend anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections to reduce inflammation. We also recommend the use of hand splints to alleviate pressure on the median nerve.

When conservative treatments no longer provide lasting relief from your symptoms, we may recommend carpal tunnel release, a surgical procedure that severs the wrist ligament to increase space for the median nerve. 

The exact cause of carpal tunnel isn’t always clear. However, early diagnosis and treatment are essential. 

To get relief from carpal tunnel syndrome, call our office — we have three convenient locations: in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland — or click on our booking tool to schedule your appointment today. 

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