The Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome negatively affects the hands and wrists and is characterized by pain, numbness, and tingling. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tissues inside the carpal tunnel at the base of the hands become swollen and irritated. The ligaments in the carpal tunnel compress and entrap the median nerve, which is a nerve that runs from the palm of the hand to the forearm and allows the thumb and fingers to feel pressure or pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a number of factors, such as continued use of hand tools that vibrate, retention of fluids during menopause or pregnancy, sprains or fractures, or repeated use and movements of hands and wrists. People with various conditions, such as an underactive thyroid gland or diabetes may also be susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Research has determined that people with rheumatoid arthritis are also at an increased risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the wrist joints because one of the hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis is swelling and inflammation of the lining of the joints (the synovium).