Can Carpal Tunnel Cause Neck Pain?

Can neck pain be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel is one of the most common affections these days. Lots of people work with keyboards or in offices, not to mention those who are always connected to their smartphones or spend hours a day playing games.

This affection is among the most popular nerve entrapments of the wrist. There are no secrets about it – it kicks in when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed. But then, the symptoms and discomfort may target other parts of the forearm too, as well as the fingers.

At this point, you probably ask yourself – can the carpal tunnel cause neck pain?

Understanding The Signs Associated With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Some symptoms are quite specific to the carpal tunnel syndrome, but can carpal tunnel pain radiate to the shoulder and neck? These pains normally target wrists, thumbs and other fingers. They usually ignore the little finger, so this is the most obvious way to figure something is wrong.

There are a couple of other nerves supplying the hand – they usually work on your fingers. Then, nerve roots targeting the cervical spine or the neck control various sensations. Some of these sensations go towards the hands, hence the confusion.

These pains normally target wrists, thumbs and other fingers. They usually ignore the little finger, so this is the most obvious way to figure something is wrong.

Overlapping sensations make the carpal tunnel hard to identify. Small details tend to make the difference. When getting diagnosed, it is important to be as specific as possible in terms of signs and symptoms if you want a clear diagnostic.

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Disclosing The Connection Between Carpal Tunnel And Neck Pain

So, can carpal tunnel cause neck pain and headaches? Lots of people undergo surgery to correct the carpal tunnel syndrome. They may still experience temporary signs, which could go more or less intense. But then, some others overcome all of these signs.

Other people may face neck injuries and experience signs similar to the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Even if they have never had a hand related injury, they may still experience pains in these areas.

The truth is your body consists of an impressive matrix of ligaments, joints and nerves, so it is not unusual for some nerves to be affected by nerves in completely different parts of the body. At this point, an isolationist approach may not necessarily work – a holistic approach could be better.

At this point, patients experiencing the signs of the carpal tunnel syndrome may have other issues to worry about, such as muscular stiffness in the shoulders and neck. The posture will be unhealthy, while muscles will go tense and the painful sensations could travel to other parts of the body.

Imagine working in an office and sticking to an unhealthy posture. You lack movement, which will lead to a domino effect.

Imagine working in an office and sticking to an unhealthy posture. You lack movement, which will lead to a domino effect. Your shoulders are rounded and your head is pushed a bit forward. Muscles in the neck compress the associated nerves too.

For perfect functionality, your hands require stability at the neck base. The lack of activity will cause the hands to be overworked. On the other hand, imagine this whole process in a reverse order. You have the carpal tunnel syndrome and you try to keep your wrists in a natural position – your whole posture will be affected then.

Getting a Diagnostic For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Lots of doctors will rush to give you a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnostic, but then, you must ask yourself a few questions. Has anyone examined your neck? Is there an explanation between the hands and neck suffering? Is there a second opinion out there? Does this diagnostic actually make sense?

Affections Similar To Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Arthritis and cervical radiculopathy are just two conditions that are often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. Cervical radiculopathy, for example, occurs when a nerve in the spine is compressed for a long period of time.

“Arthritis and cervical radiculopathy are just two conditions that are often misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are eight such nerves in the spine and each of them can cause sensations in various parts of your body – including your arms and hands. Neck pain is not necessarily present in this case, but hands could be affected. Weakness may occur anywhere between the shoulders and the tip of your fingers too.

Signs are quite similar to the symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome, so the diagnostic could be wrong. A physical exam must be performed. To ensure a good diagnostic, the doctor must check the median nerve (for the carpal tunnel syndrome diagnostic) and the cervical nerves (for the cervical radiculopathy).

Can Carpal Tunnel Cause Pain?

So, can carpal tunnel pain radiate to the shoulder and neck? Yes, it can. There are more affections that may target both the hands and the neck and setting a diagnostic could be challenging, hence the necessity of multiple tests.

An EGM is ideal to figure out the problem – it will identify the compressed nerve.

If it is the median nerve, you suffer from the carpal tunnel syndrome. If there is a problem with a cervical nerve, a MRI will help further in terms of considering the level of compression.

The diagnostic is so important because while treatments are similar, they will go in different directions. In the most severe cases, the patient might have to undergo surgery in order to fix the problem.

Conclusion

So, can carpal tunnel cause neck pain and headaches? Simply put, it can, but it is not that common. It depends on how severe the affection is. At the same time, some people may experience neck pains in the early stage of the affection. There are multiple factors to take into consideration and identifying the problem yourself could be a bit challenging.

There are a few other affections that could also cause painful sensations and discomfort in your hands, without having anything to do with the median nerve – the nerve responsible for the carpal tunnel. Nerves are tightly connected one to another, so sensations travel around and can be misleading.

Getting the right diagnostic is imperative in treating the condition right. It could only be a matter of making certain lifestyle changes, but delaying the treatment may also take you to surgery.​

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