People With Rheumatoid Arthritis Face the Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Chances are you know someone who has had carpal tunnel syndrome or you’ve had it yourself. CTS, which is characterized by tingling, numbness and pain in the hand, fingers, wrist and occasionally the forearm and arm, occurs when the tissues lining the carpal tunnel – a narrow, rigid passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand – become irritated and swollen, compressing and “entrapping” the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand and provides feeling to parts of the thumb and fingers, excluding the little finger.
CTS is often caused by a combination of factors, including repeated flexing and other movements of the wrist and fingers, sprains or fractures, continued use of vibrating hand tools and fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause. People with diabetes, an underactive thyroid gland or other disorders that directly affect the nerves are more prone to developing CTS.
Individuals with the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis may be especially prone to CTS. One of RA’s hallmarks is inflammation and swelling of the synovium – the lining of the joints – and according to the website rheumatoidarthritis.net, RA commonly afflicts the wrist joints.