Can Carpal Tunnel Cause Neck Pain?

Apr 28, 2022

Can Carpal Tunnel Cause Neck PainMany people spend hours each day working at a computer or working with their hands while on the job. From professional athletes to IT specialists, carpal tunnel syndrome can happen to anyone. Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to a condition that primarily affects the hand and wrist. When the median nerve that runs through the wrist becomes compressed, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. You might be surprised to learn that chronic neck pain can also be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. If you struggle with both carpal tunnel and neck pain, then here’s what you need to know about how these conditions relate and what type of treatment options are available for you.

How the Median Nerve Works

The median nerve runs from your armpit, through your forearm, and along the palm side of your hand. Nerve roots that connect your neck and shoulder branch off and lead to different parts of the body, like the median nerve. The carpal tunnel refers to a passageway inside the wrist joint made of tendons and ligaments that helps protect the median nerve that runs through it.

When the carpal tunnel becomes narrowed or compressed, it can put pressure on the median nerve and cause uncomfortable symptoms. The median nerve provides your shoulder, forearm, wrist, and hand with sensory and motor functions. This means your ability to bend and straighten your wrist and rotate your forearm are all connected to the healthy functioning of the median nerve. The median nerve communicates with the muscles in your arm, wrist, and hand to stimulate movements and also provides you with sensations of touch, pain, and temperature.

Carpal Tunnel and the Median Nerve

Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when the median nerve is compressed or pinched. Once left untreated, carpal tunnel won’t go away without medical intervention. Here are the symptoms, risk factors, and processes for diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, tingling, and numbness in your thumb and first three fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause a painful burning sensation that travels up your wrist and into your arm. Wrist pain from carpal tunnel syndrome can keep you from performing routine tasks or keep you up at night. You may also experience weakness in the affected hand, which can make movements like gripping a doorknob or fastening a button more difficult.

Risk Factors

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects women at three times the rate of men, which may be due in part to the smaller anatomy of the female wrist. You are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome between the ages of 20 and 40. Lifestyle factors and regular activities can also put you at greater risk for developing carpal tunnel. Jobs or sports that require repetitive wrist movements can increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diagnosis

If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, then your doctor will need to assess the area to confirm a diagnosis. They will typically perform a physical examination of your hand, wrist, and forearm. Your doctor may ask you to perform certain movements and test the sensation and strength in these areas. Your doctor may also run diagnostic tools like an X-ray to rule out a fracture or run nerve conduction studies to test the functioning of the median nerve.

The Median Nerve and Neck Pain

You might be wondering what carpal tunnel syndrome and neck pain have to do with one another. The nerves in the body are all connected and branch off into many different paths. The median nerve starts in the armpit, just below the shoulder, where a complex series of nerves connects your shoulder to your neck. Pain in your hand, wrist, and arm may cause you to restrict certain movements or change your movements to compensate for the pain. This can put added pressure on your shoulder joint and nearby nerves. When you tense your shoulders due to pain and discomfort, it can also affect your neck. Poor posture in your upper body can also affect the healthy functioning of nerves in your neck and shoulder that connect to the median nerve.

Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Treating carpal tunnel syndrome will involve identifying and resolving what is compressing the median nerve. If there is inflammation in the area, then reducing inflammation and swelling will help alleviate pressure off the median nerve and reduce your pain. If your carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive wrist usage, then you may need to rest from those activities until inflammation has gone down. Using a wrist brace or splint to help hold your hand and wrist in a neutral position can also help manage your carpal tunnel symptoms. Your doctor will typically recommend conservative and nonsurgical approaches to treat carpal tunnel syndrome before discussing more invasive surgical options.

Treatment Options for Neck Pain

Identifying the source of your neck pain is key to providing you with lasting pain relief. Treatment options for neck pain will involve treating the source of your pain, including treating carpal tunnel syndrome. If you struggle with chronic neck pain, then talk to your doctor about treatment options to help reduce your discomfort and improve your quality of life. Conservative and non-invasive approaches to neck pain treatment can include manual therapies, chiropractic care, and gentle techniques with a physical therapist. Work with a chiropractor to learn more about how your posture can help reduce instances of chronic neck pain and also help eliminate nerve dysfunction in other parts of the body.

At AICA Orthopedics in Jonesboro, our team of doctors offer a wide range of treatment options to help relieve your pain and other symptoms. If you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic neck pain, then look no further than our multi-disciplinary team of Jonesboro doctors. Our clinic is conveniently located, and we offer state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools and tests in-house so you can meet with your doctor and get the tests you may need all in one place. Visit us to learn more about how you can experience lasting pain relief!

 

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