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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Dr Greg Sher


    I am the Clinic Director of the Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic.At our clinic, we see an equal mix of city office workers and elite … View Profile

    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused by a few things, but the main issue is compression of a nerve (the median nerve) in the Carpal Tunnel, which is a tunnel created by the wrist bones at the bottom, and a strong sheath of ligament at the top. 

    The compression often occurs because the wrist bones either lose their proper position, or through repetitive strain the ligament becomes thicker, causing compression. 

    The problem with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is that compression or irritation on the nerve anywhere along its course can cause the same symptoms. As the nerve exits from the neck, this compression/irritation can occur in a few places in the neck, 1 main area between muscles of the forearm, and in the actual carpal tunnel itself, which is why a proper examination and diagnosis is so important before undertaking a treatment plan.

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    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical … View Profile

    All of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome result in the same problem: median nerve compression at the wrist. The most common cause is “idiopathic”, which means that there's no particular reason for it to have occurred. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be related to pregnancy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, broken wrist bones, hypothyroidism, obesity, acromegaly and (very rarely) tumours. Whether it can be caused by repetitive movements at work is controversial.

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