Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has a high prevalence in women with fibromyalgia (FM). Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve – a large nerve which runs from the elbow, through the wrist into the hand – becomes pinched or compressed which leads to tingling or numbness of the and fingers. This condition is commonly seen in individuals who use the computer for excessive amounts of time.
Although repetitive motions and computer risk are factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, likewise is having fibromyalgia – a condition categorized by chronic pain. Research has found that people with fibromyalgia are four to six times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome compared to the general population.
Unfortunately there is not exact reason as to why there is an association between fibromyalgia and an increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome but some experts believe it is due to the fact that in fibromyalgia patients are already more sensitive to pain and so less pressure on the median nerve is require for a patient with fibromyalgia to notice it.
A 2013 study examined the frequency of carpal tunnel syndrome in fibromyalgia patients and found there is a large prevalence of undetected carpal tunnel syndrome in these patients.
The study was conducted on 100 females who were divided into two groups – 40 who had fibromyalgia and 60 who were healthy controls. All participants underwent full medical history, locomotor examination, body mass index calculations, and electrodiagnosis for carpal tunnel syndrome. Participants also filled out fibromyalgia impairment questionnaires (FIQ).
Researchers found that fibromyalgia patients had higher frequency of carpal tunnel syndrome compared to the control group. Furthermore there was a significant correlation between FIQ scores and CTS severity. The close correlation between FIQ scores and CTS diagnosis indicates that carpal tunnel syndrome is a main cause of impairment in fibromyalgia patients, according to the researchers.
Fibromyalgia prevalence in women is two percent and carpal tunnel syndrome prevalence is 9.2 percent. Much research
has been conducted which revealed an association between the two conditions.
There is a trend of under diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome in fibromyalgia patients due to the fact that symptoms between both conditions are quite similar. Both conditions can cause pain, numbness, tingling and burning and weakness. To decipher between fibromyalgia pain and carpal tunnel syndrome pain it’s important to recognize when the pain occurs. If you notice the pain worsens at night that is a factor which distinguishes carpal tunnel syndrome from fibromyalgia.
Speaking with your doctor can help find a method of treatment which may include physical therapy, wearing a wrist brace, or if severe, surgery.
Not only is treating carpal tunnel syndrome necessary for your hand but by treating CTS you can reduce other sources of pain as well related to fibromyalgia.