Surprising Factors That Can Lead To Carpal Tunnel

When the median nerve that runs from your forearm into the palm of your hand becomes compressed or pinched, you experience pain in your palm and fingers — the telltale signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.

You may know that having a job with repetitive hand and wrist activity, such as typing or assembly line work, puts you at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, but you may be unaware of some other factors that can put you at risk. Read on to learn what might be behind the development of this painful and disabling condition.

Fluid retention

During pregnancy and menopause, women may notice carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. This is likely due to edema, or the buildup of fluid in the tissues surrounding your wrists. You experience increased pressure on the median nerve and as a result tingling, numbness, and pain of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Once pregnancy ends or you finish menopause, the symptoms often subside.

Overactive pituitary gland

The pituitary gland sits at the base of your brain and is considered the major endocrine gland. It secretes hormones that drive growth and functioning in all of your other endocrine glands. When the pituitary gland is overactive, it can lead to oversized hands that can cause compression of the median nerve.

Underactive thyroid gland

An underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, causes symptoms such as fatigue, intolerance to cold, fluid retention, and unexplained weight gain. The latter two symptoms, weight gain and fluid retention, can contribute to compression of the median nerve and result in carpal tunnel symptoms.


Diabetes puts your body into a state of inflammation. You may experience greater fluid retention and poor circulation as a side effect of this chronic disease. These can cause compression of the median nerve, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Construction work

Oftentimes, carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with sedentary keyboard related jobs, such as typists or data analysts. But active construction work can involve repetitive activity that irritates the carpal tunnel that surrounds the median nerve and leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Painting or hammering repetitively are possible causes. Using vibrating power tools is also a potential risk factor for developing carpal tunnel.

Playing the piano

Playing piano can put your wrist into the similar, distorted position used when typing. If you have a passion for the instrument or are a concert-level pianist who performs for a living, you’re at greater risk of compressing the median nerve with repetitive play.


Smoking affects your circulation and function of your blood vessels. If you smoke, you may be reducing the vascular supply to the median nerve, increasing your risk of experiencing compression that causes carpal tunnel.

Being a woman

Women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel than men. This is likely because women tend to have smaller bone structure and wrists compared to men.

Our expert team of physicians at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists can help evaluate any hand or finger pain you’re experiencing. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, we can offer treatment to help you find relief. Call us or use the online booking feature on this website.

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