Obesity and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The connection between obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome is complicated. Of all the nerve disorders causing disability in the United States, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The compression occurs either because the carpal tunnel itself narrows or because the tendons running through it increase in size as a result of inflammation. The symptoms include pain, burning, numbness and tingling in the fingers and hand, and may involve loss of grip and pinch strength

A recent study examined factors such as hand and wrist shape as well as body mass index (BMI, or a measurement of obesity) compared to the incidence of carpel tunnel syndrome and its severity. The results confirmed earlier scientific reports demonstrating that obesity and the wrist’s anatomical shape are associated with a higher probability of getting of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Even though obesity may be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, the relationship is not a simple one. Another study showed that even with a higher prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome among obese patients, subsequent weight loss in these patients did not bring relief of their symptoms. This suggests that the relationship between carpal tunnel syndrome and obesity is not a simple “cause and effect”. Instead, there may be a common genetic factor linking the two conditions. For instance, there may be a genetic predisposition in patients manifesting one condition if they already have the other. Since family history is major predictive factor of carpal tunnel syndrome, then this relationship is not surprising.

The bottom line is that the scientific data and statistics resoundingly affirm the relationship between obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome. At some point in their life, about 10% of people in the general population are likely to get symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. In contrast, about 25% of obese people already have carpal tunnel syndrome. This can be extended to imply that if you are already obese but don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome, then your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome at some point is greatly increased.

Once again, it must be cautioned that there is no evidence suggesting obesity causes carpal tunnel syndrome. The relationship is merely that – a relationship. The association may involve common genetic factors that link the two conditions but more research is required to establish the nature of this complex association.

Whatever the association between obesity and carpal tunnel syndrome, the root cause is tendon inflammation. To permanently alleviate such inflammation, merely removing pressure on the median nerve (like surgery attempts) is not enough. And it’s one reason surgery fails so often. Only deep tissue myofascial release massage therapy can alleviate the inflammation permanently because it drains fluid while also breaking the adhesions that cause the inflammation. You need such massage daily for 2-4 weeks from a trained therapist. Or you can use the Carpal Rx which performs the exact same massage automatically.

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Sources

K. Chiotis, et. al., Role of Anthropometric Characteristics in Idiopathic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Volume 94, Issue 4 , Pages 737-744, April 2013

Sharifi-Mollayousefi A., Yazdchi-Marandi M, Ayramlou H, et al. Assessment of body mass index and hand anthropometric measurements as independent risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome. Folia Morphol. (Warsz) 67 (1): 36–42. 2008.

Kurt, S., et al. Obesity and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Is There a Causal Relationship? Eur Neurol 59(5):253-7. 2008.

Wolf, H., Karaer, H., Kaplan, Y, and Smith, I. Turkish J Physical Med Rehab,Semiha Kurt, Hatice Karaer, Yüksel Kaplan, İlker Etikan Carpal tunnel syndrome and the relationship between body mass index, age and gender. 52 (4) 2006.

Karpitskaya Y, Novak CB, Mackinnon SE: Prevalence of smoking, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and thyroid disease in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Ann Plast Surg 48:269-273, 2002

Lam N, Thurston A: Association of obesity, gender, age and occupation with carpal tunnel syndrome. Aust NZ J Surg 68:190-193, 1998