While carpal tunnel syndrome was once thought to be caused solely by repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, we now know that genetics play a key role. If you have a parent, grandparent, sibling, or another close blood relative with the condition, you are at increased risk regardless of whether your activities involve repetitive motion.
In 2007, the results of a review of 117 medical studies involving carpal tunnel syndrome were presented to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Study researcher David Ring, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, found that the quality and strength of the evidence supporting genetic or inherent risk factors for carpal tunnel was moderate while there was poor evidence supporting occupational risk factors as a primary cause of carpal tunnel symptoms.
Exploring the Genetic Link for Carpal Tunnel
To further support the idea that carpal tunnel syndrome has genetic risk factors, researchers have found that people with the condition often have an abnormality in the genes that distribute myelin—a substance that is responsible for insulating nerve fibers in the body. This amplifies the numbness and pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Type II diabetes, a common chronic medical condition with a strong genetic component, is also associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Approximately 20% of people with diabetes also have carpal tunnel syndrome, and people diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome are 36% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes at a later date. In comparison, only about 3.5% of the general population suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is linked to carpal tunnel syndrome—even in people who don’t have RA themselves. First-degree relatives of a person with RA are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than people who have no family members with RA.
Get Relief From Painful Carpal Tunnel Symptoms Today
Dr. Eric H. Williams, a nerve expert who specializes in reconstructive surgery and pain relief, and traditional endoscopic procedure or open surgery. We encourage you to learn more about your options for quickly and effectively addressing your carpal tunnel pain by contacting our Towson office.