What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

Posted on 04/30/2021

Do you often feel pins and needles or numbness in your hand or fingers? Carpal tunnel is a common condition that affects the hand. If you have this syndrome, you may feel discomfort, general weakness, and numbness in your wrist and hand. The uneasiness comes about when there is increased strain on your median nerve.


The median nerve is a nerve inside your wrist responsible for sensation in your thumb, middle, and index fingers. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage from the wrist to the hand, and it contains bones, ligaments, and tendons. When the median nerve is strained, the nerve and tendons swell, or something triggers inflammation in the carpal tunnel. The swelling then brings about feelings of numbness, pain, weakness, and tingling in your arm.


How Do You Get Carpal Tunnel?


Carpal tunnel syndrome is triggered by strain or pressure on the median nerve. Anything that stresses and causes swelling in the tendons can bring about carpal tunnel syndrome, including:




During gestation, the volume of your blood and fluid doubles. Pregnancy hormones retain this extra fluid, causing pressure and swelling to increase all through your body. When this occurs, the median nerve may get compressed and cause symptoms like numbness, tingling, stiffness, and pain in the hands.


Wrist Injuries


An injury, fracture, or dislocation in your wrist can reduce the amount of space in your carpal tunnel and aggravate your median nerve. When the carpal tunnel becomes smaller, narrower, or thinner, the pressure inside the median nerve increases, causing you to have carpal tunnel syndrome.




Several types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, can cause swelling and inflammation in your joints. As such, you are more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome if you have arthritis in your wrist or arm. That is because the swelling that comes with arthritis may trigger carpal tunnel syndrome.


Overuse Damage


Repetitive hand movements and awkward arm postures can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Such actions and postures can irritate and inflame the tendons in your carpal tunnel causing injury to your hand.


Congenital Factors


Some individuals have a narrower carpal tunnel than other people. The condition is generally more prevalent in women because carpal tunnels are relatively smaller or narrower in females than males. Also, females with carpal tunnel syndrome may have narrower carpal tunnels than those who do not have the condition.


Are You at Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?


You are at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome:


  • If you are a woman between 40 and 60 years old

  • If you are pregnant

  • If you gain weight rapidly

  • If you use your hands repetitively in your daily routine, for instance, if you are an assembly line worker or a typist

  • If you have been diagnosed with certain forms of arthritis


See your doctor if you are experiencing discomfort in your hand and wrist that interfere with your sleep patterns and daily routine.


To learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, visit East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity in Oakland, CA at (510)  904-1100 to book an appointment today!


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.