The carpal tunnel is a narrow space between the wrist bone and the fibrous tissue that supports the wrist joint. Threading through this tight space is the median nerve, which can easily become inflamed with repetitive stress to the area.
You may be unaware of the many different causes there are for CTS. We will explore seven of the top causes in a 2-part series.
1. Tendon Inflammation
This is the most prevalent underlying causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). The flexor tendons are located on the palm side of the hand, and can become inflamed by any one of a number of different factors., the most common being overuse or repetitive strain of the hand and wrist.
The inflammation produces lubricant that is viscous. This causes more friction around the tendons as the wrist flexes and extends, which in turn produces even more inflammation and swelling. Finally, the swollen tendon exerts pressure on the adjacent median nerve causing symptoms CTS.
Wrist fractures that have improperly aligned or healed changes the arrangement of the carpal bone. This can also occur from callous formations resulting from long term physical stress. Some pathologies like tumors can cause similar changes to a bone’s anatomy producing the same results.
The misalignment causes what is known as the transverse carpal ligament to become taught, exerting pressure on the carpal tunnel, producing internal pressure directly on the median nerve. It also results in decreasing the volume of the carpal tunnel, causing the components inside the carpal tunnel (including the median nerve) to become squeezed.
Finally, there can be misalignment of carpal bones caused by myofascial syndrome, a dysfunction of the tissues around the muscles and fascia of the forearm and hand. These tissues become shorter and tighter, pulling on their attachment points on the carpal bones and producing misalignment.
3. Nerve Damaging and Inflammatory Conditions
Chronic conditions such as alcoholism and diabetes are associated with increased risk of CTS. These illnesses directly damage the nervous system, including the median nerve.
Other conditions indirectly damage the median nerve by producing inflammation which is transmitted to the wrist joint. Examples are infections and rheumatoid arthritis which can disturb the normal functioning of wrist tendons, resulting in excessive pressure on the median nerve.
4. Body Fluid Imbalance
Particular conditions such as pregnancy, obesity, menopause, kidney failure, and thyroid disorder can cause changes in levels of body fluids. When the fluids are accumulate in the joints such as the wrist, pressure increases inside the carpal tunnel, exerting pressure on the median nerve.