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Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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: Updated September 3, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015.

  • 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.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.