Many people are rightly concerned about developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), which can make everyday activities difficult and painful. Below we have outlined some of the main risk factors in developing CTS. Of course, carpal tunnel syndrome can still develop in individuals without these risk factors, so if you are experiencing symptoms such as “pins and needles,” a burning feeling in the hands, or numbness in the hands or thumbs, it is worth consulting with us regarding a proper diagnosis and treatment options if necessary. Keep in mind that CTS symptoms develop gradually, making early diagnosis and treatment that much more important.
The likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome increases with age. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the majority of people who experience carpal tunnel symptoms are between the ages of 30 to 60. Diagnosis becomes more common particularly for patients over the age of 55.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The increased prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in women appears to be related to some of the physiological differences between men and women, including the fact that on average women have narrower wrists than men, and that hormonal changes can cause fluid accumulation that puts pressure on the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. In addition, women have a higher risk of developing autoimmune disorders than men, and the University of Maryland reports a link between CTS and autoimmune disorders.
Lifestyle factors can play a major part in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. The higher body mass associated with excess weight and obesity may affect the speed of nerve flow into the hand, directly impacting the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely than the general population to have CTS. Higher blood glucose levels cause the tendons of the carpal tunnel to become inflamed and less able to slide freely.
What you do for a living can increase your risk of developing CTS. Researchers have found that people performing jobs requiring repetitive hand and wrist motions, such as laborers, factory workers and even musicians, are at increased risk of developing CTS. Many people who spend a lot of time typing on the computer will develop symptoms of wrist strain, but there is not yet a definitive link between keyboard use and carpal tunnel syndrome.