Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the compression of the carpal tunnel, located inside the wrist, which passes the median nerve. It enables finger sensitivity (thumb, index, middle fingers and half of the ring finger). If the nerve is compressed, grip strength is reduced. A feeling of numbness or tingling tends to appear.
From simple discomfort to intense pain or sudden loss of hand strength, carpal tunnel syndrome can be very disabling. For this reason, it sounds natural to wonder about who can get carpal tunnel syndrome and see if you are more likely to have it.
Do some jobs, activities or situations include more risks? Are men and women equally concerned by carpal tunnel syndrome?
Who gets carpal tunnel syndrome? Some figures!
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a frequent medical condition. It is one of the most frequent musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities. How many people have carpal tunnel syndrome?
It is the main cause of nerve compression in humans. In the United Kingdom, carpal tunnel syndrome affects between 7 and 16% of the population(1). Women are more concerned by CTS than men.
Carpal tunnel syndrome would affect between 3 and 6% of the general population(2). People from 40 to 60 years of age are also more concerned by carpal tunnel syndrome(1).
Who can get carpal tunnel syndrome depending on the risk factors?
Many factors can contribute to CTS. They can be of mechanical, anatomical, pathological or hormonal nature, mainly.
People with a narrow carpal tunnel
People with a narrow carpal tunnel are more exposed to this condition. Having a narrow carpal tunnel can be congenital or caused by a trauma. By the way, the carpal tunnel is naturally narrower in women.
People with associated diseases
People who get carpal tunnel syndrome can have related diseases. Among them, let’s name inflammatory diseases like arthritis, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and endocrine diseases causing overweight or hypothyroidism.
Why do pregnant women get carpal tunnel syndrome?
Even if pregnancy is not a disease per se, it can be a period that facilitates the onset of symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pregnant women could get carpal tunnel more easily because of fluid retention that increases the volume of wrists and would contribute to nerve compression. Hormonal changes could also favour the onset of this condition.
We often search for one single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, but in reality, there is a combination of factors that are difficult to identify.
What type of jobs can cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
Repetitive movements increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. The tendons, which are overused, become inflamed and cause acute pain. So many jobs, sports and other activities are major risk factors for CTS.
Who can get carpal tunnel syndrome among workers? CTS is the second condition admitted as an occupational disease. People with manual occupations are more affected by this syndrome, like occupations that are well known to favour musculoskeletal disorders. They include:
- large retailers and more specifically cashiers are prone to bearing loads, sometimes heavy, and they do repetitive movements;
- maintenance and cleaning jobs like laundry workers;
- butchers and slaughterers for whom work conditions in refrigerated environment increase the risks;
- food service and hospitality industry that involves daily inappropriate movements;
- automobile industry that includes many manual jobs;
- construction industry, which often entail outdoor work, associates force and vibrations;
- occupations requiring intense use of keyboard and computer mouse.
Because changing of activity might be complicated, some actions can be taken to ease pain.
What can you do if you get carpal tunnel syndrome?
First, EPITACT® suggests you to alternate the wear of two braces specially dedicated to carpal tunnel syndrome. The first one is the flexible CARP’ACTIV™ brace* for day use intended to secure the wrist during activities. How? By limiting harmful excessive hand and wrist movements and placing the wrist in a neutral position.
The second one is the rigid CARP’IMMO™ brace* for night use that immobilises the wrist while limiting pressure on it. It is used at night or at rest to ease pain.
EPITACT® gives you some tips to prevent the onset of this syndrome and natural solutions to relieve pain.
*These solutions are class I medical devices that bear the CE marking under this regulation. Carefully read the instructions before use. Manufacturer: MILLET Innovation. 11/2021
For more details about this general and simplified approach, here is another source:
(1)Genova A, Dix O, Saefan A, Thakur M, Hassan A. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Review of Literature. Cureus. 12(3):e7333.
(2)Eisenbud L, Ejadi S, Mar N. Development of carpal tunnel syndrome in association with checkpoint inhibitors. J Oncol Pharm Pract. avr 2021;27(3):764‑5.