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Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Anything that causes irritation, inflammation, fluid retention, or an abnormal growth in or around the carpal tunnel can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Repetitive movements of the hands, wrists, or fingers—especially overactive use of a computer keyboard, certain musical instruments, or hand tools
  • Use of vibrating equipment or tools
  • A narrow carpal tunnel (due to heredity or other causes)
  • Wrist injury:
    • Burns
    • Broken bones
    • Compression or crush injuries
  • Arthritis leading to swelling within the carpal tunnel
  • Diabetes
  • Raynaud's disease , which impairs blood flow in the hands
  • Water retention due to:
  • Hormone-related conditions, such as:
  • Medications, such as:
    • Birth control pills
    • Cortisone pills or shots
    • Some high blood pressure drugs
  • Tumors and cysts in the carpal tunnel

Revision Information

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated October 8, 2012. Accessed October 23 ,2012.

  • Katz RT. Carpal tunnel syndrome: a practical review. Am Fam Physician . 1994;49:1371-1379, 1385-1386.

  • Patijn J, Vallejo R, Janssen M, et al. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Pain Pract . 2011;11(3):297-301.