Does stress cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
Many people ask, “Can stress cause carpal tunnel syndrome?” It doesn’t seem likely, but it can. It’s clear if you know about carpal tunnel and its symptoms. They usually begin with numbness and tingling in your hand and wrist. You may have a sharp, piercing pain that shoots through the wrist and up your forearm. If it is carpal tunnel syndrome, then it’s a problem inside the narrow passageway in your wrist joint. Nothing to do with stress or anxiety yet, but wait…
The wrist joint also contains the median nerve and tendons that surround it. Sometimes irritated tendons thicken and swell. This narrows spaces the inside of the wrist joint. The result is median nerve compression. The symptoms usually begin gradually. You can lose grip strength and dexterity in your fingers as it worsens. Pain can be quite severe as carpal tunnel syndrome progresses.
The Cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The actual cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown. It may be related to having a smaller carpal tunnel than other people have. But the reason carpal tunnel syndrome arises is clear. You see it in high risk jobs like assembly line work or jobs that require repetitive hand movements. Examples are using a computer keyboard and mouse, assembly line work, hairdressing, etc.. You may also have had wrist injury or swelling. Such can be due to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or bursitis. Finally, women are 3 times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome than men.
But how can emotional stress and anxiety bring on carpal tunnel syndrome? There is no direct evidence this can happen. The stresses and forces inside the carpal tunnel are purely physical. They are related solely to tendon swelling and nerve compression. However, further examination of what causes tendon swelling is ultimately psychological stress.
Workstation and posture
The National Institutes of Health warns that carpal tunnel and computer exposure are linked. You can get poor posture when using a keyboard and mouse. Moreover, incorrect or poor posture at the workstation produces hand pain and other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. That’s because the forces in the neck, shoulder and upper arm get transmitted to the wrist joint. Any one of these forces can disturb the wrist’s normal anatomy. This affects pressure on the median nerve. So changing your workstation can prevent problems from happening in the first place.
Effect of stress on posture
Work deadlines, pressure to produce and other workplace tensions are the source of stress and anxiety. Most people ignore good posture at the workstation and focus on getting the job done. And if attention is not on good posture, you slouch. Your shoulder also hunches and there’s general upper body muscle tensing. These are the very definitions of poor posture while working. And they’re the recipe for hand pain. Thus, a primary cause of tensing your muscles is stress and anxiety which definitely leads to poor posture.
Conclusion: Can stress cause carpal tunnel? -Yes!
Stress does not directly cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Rather, it produce an indirect effect on the carpal tunnel and median nerve. That’s what can contribute to getting this painful condition.
If you already have the warning signs
You might already have the symptoms and warning signs carpal tunnel syndrome. If so, attack the root cause of the problem right now. That problem is tendon inflammation. To permanently eliminate the inflammation, just removing pressure on the median nerve isn’t enough. And it’s one reason carpal tunnel surgery fails so often. Thus, many doctors today consider carpal tunnel surgery unnecessary due to its relative ineffectiveness.
Only myofascial release massage therapy can alleviate the inflammation permanently. That’s because it drains fluid while also breaking the adhesions that cause the inflammation. It’s nearly 100% effective. But you need it performed by a trained therapist daily for 4 weeks. Or you can use Carpal Rx. It’s calibrated to perform this identical deep tissue massage on your wrist and forearm automatically. And it does it at home and every day for 4 weeks.