A number of factors have been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Although by themselves they don't cause carpal tunnel syndrome, they may increase your chances of developing or aggravating median nerve damage. These include:

  • Anatomic factors. A wrist fracture or dislocation that alters the space within the carpal tunnel can create extraneous pressure on the median nerve.

    People with smaller carpal tunnels may be more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Sex. Carpal tunnel syndrome is generally more common in women. This may be because the carpal tunnel area is relatively smaller than in men, and there may be less room for error.

    Women who have carpal tunnel syndrome may also have smaller carpal tunnels than women who don't have the condition.

  • Nerve-damaging conditions. Some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, increase your risk of nerve damage, including damage to your median nerve.
  • Inflammatory conditions. Illnesses that are characterized by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the tendons in your wrist, exerting pressure on your median nerve.
  • Alterations in the balance of body fluids. Fluid retention, common during pregnancy or menopause, may increase the pressure within your carpal tunnel, irritating the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome associated with pregnancy generally resolves on its own after pregnancy.
  • Other medical conditions. Certain conditions, such as menopause, obesity, thyroid disorders and kidney failure, may increase your chances of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Workplace factors. It's possible that working with vibrating tools or on an assembly line that requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist may create harmful pressure on the median nerve or worsen existing nerve damage.

    However, the scientific evidence is conflicting and these factors haven't been established as direct causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Several studies have evaluated whether there is an association between computer use and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there has not been enough quality and consistent evidence to support extensive computer use as a risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome, although it may cause a different form of hand pain.

Apr. 02, 2014