Migraines and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Is There a Connection?


160233877Migraine headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) are two conditions that were never thought to be related to each other, but recent research published in the official open access journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons may indicate that the two may share a connection.

A Positive Correlation

The published research indicates that patients who suffer from CTS are twice as likely to also have reoccurring migraine headaches. The opposite is also true: people with migraines have shown to have a higher risk of developing CTS. While these results were primarily taken from self-reported symptoms, the association seems clear:

  • 3.7 percent of respondents reported having CTS, with 16.3 percent reporting migraines
  • Over one-third of respondents with CTS reported migraines, compared to one-sixth of respondents who had migraines without CTS
  • After adjusting for health-related risk factors, the odds of having migraines were 2.6 times higher for people with CTS, and the odds of having CTS were 2.7 times higher for patients who already had migraines

Diagnosis Prospects

CTS has been included in a group of conditions called “compression neuropathies,” which involve the compression of nerves that cause painful symptoms. Migraines typically weren’t included in this group of conditions, but new research shows that migraines may have their root cause in compression of the nerves near the neck and head. This means the two conditions may have more in common than originally thought.

While the underlying causes of these conditions are not well understood, incidence of migraine headaches could become a known risk factor for diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Though doctors warn that this evidence isn’t conclusive, it’s the first to show a positive correlation between the two conditions and may provide clues to their shared causes and allow for earlier diagnosis and better treatment.