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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Part 2 - Risk Factors

There are factors associated with a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome:

 Women are at higher risk than men: some suggest that this is due to the smaller cross sectional area of the carpal tunnel; another theory is related to hormonal differences

 Older age: some suggest that the changes to the blood supply of the nerve as people age may make the nerve more susceptible to the pressure within the carpal tunnel

 Obesity: increased fatty tissue may be responsible by taking up more space within the confined space of the carpal tunnel;

 Diabetes mellitus: it is well known that people with diabetes are more at risk for developing peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerve that reduces its ability to receive sensation information and send signals to our muscles. It is thought that this same metabolic process may make the nerve more susceptible to pressure causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Perhaps the nerve’s threshold for withstanding the pressure is reduced.

 Pregnancy: hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause swelling within the carpal tunnel

 Occupational risks: repetitive forceful use of the hand, repetitive awkward hand positions and repetitive exposure to vibration – these repetitive stresses may cause swelling that puts pressure on the nerve

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Part 3 will cover treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.

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 References:

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/

2. Erickson M, Lawrence M, Stegink Jansen CW, et al. Hand pain and sensory deficits: Carpal tunnel syndrome. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019; 49(5):CPG1-CPG85. Link: https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2019.0301

Matt Seltzer