Losing weight is important to your health for a variety of reasons; your heart health is especially affected by excess weight. Diabetes, stroke, and back pain are also more common in persons with excess weight. Most of us do not have enough lean body mass, and need to do something about changing our nutrition and exercise habits.
In carpal tunnel syndrome, some of the well-known risk factors are using tools that vibrate or doing work that involves repetitive motions of the hands and wrist. Also workers who have neck and shoulder pains are more likely to get carpal tunnel symptoms in the future.
These obvious factors are easy to understand, but what does this have to do with my excess weight? Carpal tunnel syndrome, like all diseases, has many different causes. All of these potential causes need to be thoroughly considered when approaching a patient’s condition from a holistic standpoint.
Excess weight gain has been problematic in U.S. society for many decades. Two-thirds of adults are now either overweight, or clinically obese. Research has shown that obesity can increase your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome by as much as 75-100%. Why this is the case is not well understood. But understanding this additional risk to being overweight may motivate more of us to do something about it. Weight loss is difficult for anyone, so if there is one more positive thing that can motivate us, such as less hand pain, then this needs to be appreciated.
In some patients, the increasing body size can cause the spine to alter its posture into a sway back with forward head posture. The sway to the low back is easy to see looking at an obese person from the side. X-ray is needed to see the changes in the neck curve. In this sway back position, the spinal cord and nerves of the neck are more stretched. This stretching of the nerves might make them more susceptible to pinch at the wrist, because they were first compromised at the neck.
Another theory is that the changes that come with obesity could create more inflammation generally in the body. This inflammation might make symptoms at the wrist occur if there was already a narrowed space for the nerves.
Obesity can be just one more added stressor to your body that you can do without. Choose a doctor that considers both your nutritional and structural needs when deciding on a health care provider. Prevention is the key to many problems including carpal tunnel syndrome.