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Who is at Risk of Getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)?

Between 4 million and 10 million Americans have carpal tunnel syndrome. Characterized by numbness or tingling in the fingers and pain in the wrists, it can affect virtually anyone.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. It usually occurs only in adults, and middle-aged adults and seniors are more likely to develop the syndrome than younger adults.

The structure of an individual’s wrist also may have an impact on the potential for CTS. The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist where nine tendons and a median nerve pass from the arm into the hand. It’s typically about an inch wide. However, people who have more space in this tunnel are possibly less likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome, and individuals whose tunnels are tighter may be at higher risk.

Lifestyle factors, however, may be the most significant regarding who is at risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Places Some People at Risk of Getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

1. Body Structure & Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, or nerve disorders are among those who are at risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Other conditions that may be related to CTS include an overactive pituitary gland or an underactive thyroid gland. These health concerns may lead to fluid retention in the wrists, which places stress on the carpal tunnel.

Individuals who have jobs that demand strenuous or repetitive use of the wrists, such as painters, may be at higher risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
Individuals who have jobs that demand strenuous or repetitive use of the wrists, such as painting, may be at higher risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Workplace Demands

Jobs that require repetitive or strenuous use of the wrists may be associated with CTS. These workers include:

  • Assembly line workers
  • Manufacturing employees, especially those who frequently use manual or vibrating hand tools
  • Tailors
  • Carpenters/woodworkers
  • Janitors/cleaning service personnel
  • Chefs/cooks
  • Data entry clerks/office workers
  • Painters

3. Hobbies

Many games, sports, and other hobbies may cause or increase the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome. Examples of these are bowling, playing the piano, playing basketball, and knitting.

4. Injuries

Wrist injuries that cause swelling may increase the effects of CTS as well.

5. Heredity

Some people are simply biologically or physically more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome than others are.

6. Cysts or Tumors

Cysts or tumors that develop in the wrists could lead to swelling and discomfort, leading to CTS symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and pain.

Possible Reasons Why Women Get CTS More Often

As noted above, research shows that women are three times more likely to get CTS than men are. The reasons for that are threefold.

  • Menopause may cause fluid retention in the wrists, which would add pressure to the tunnel.
  • Women who are pregnant may be more susceptible to CTS for similar reasons.
  • Women are more likely to have some of the underlying factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, such as arthritis, obesity, and thyroid issues.

Is it CTS?

Because it is so common, the general public tends to associate any wrist pain with carpal tunnel syndrome. However, many other conditions could cause pain and numbness in the hands and wrists.

If you believe you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, make an appointment with Dr. Arora for an evaluation. You may do so online or by calling one of our offices, located in West Bloomfield, Howell, St. Clair Shores, and Macomb Township.

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