Does Obesity Promote Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

carpaltunnelIn my dealings with patients living with obesity, I am certainly aware of the many health problems attributed to excess weight – but that there may be a link between carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and obesity is new to me.

Thus, I was surprised to see a meta-analysis of Shiri and colleagues, published in Obesity Reviews, which shows a rather clear increased risk for CTS with increasing BMI.

Their analysis included 58 studies consisting of 1,379,372 individuals.

While having overweight increased the risk of CTS or carpal tunnel release 1.5-fold, having obesity increased this risk twofold. Each one-unit increase in body mass index increased the risk of CTS by 7.4%.

The associations did not differ between men and women, and they were independent of study design.

Exactly why excess weight would have an adverse effect on the median nerve is unclear but the authors speculate that this may have to do with increased workload or mechanical stretch.

Whether or not weight loss would help alleviated or prevent CTS is unclear.

I wonder is any of my clinical colleagues will have noted this in their patients.

Edmonton, AB