Can Awkward Sleep Positioning Cause Carpal Tunnel?

Can Awkward Sleep Positioning Cause Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that can cause numbness, tingling, and other symptoms in the hand and arm. It is usually caused when the median nerve in your wrist is compressed and irritated. Most often, repetitive hand motions are the cause of the condition; however, much about carpal tunnel is still a mystery to modern medicine. There is no single cause in many cases of carpal tunnel. In fact, it could be a combination of risk factors that contribute to its development.

For example, if you fractured or injured your wrist in the past, it could put you more at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, increase your risk of nerve damage, which could affect the median nerve. Carpal tunnel is generally also more common in women, likely because women have a relatively smaller carpal tunnel area. Workplace factors that cause you to repeat the same movement over and over again, or use vibrating tools, can also increase your risk of developing the condition.

However, some wonder whether or not awkwardly sleeping can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Sleeping incorrectly can cause all manners of aches and pains in the neck, upper back, lower back, and arms. Can perpetual awkward sleeping, therefore, create enough constant pressure on the median nerve to cause permanent damage?

One study published by the American Association for Hand Surgery in 2010, examined preferred sleep positions on the side and its association with carpal tunnel syndrome. The scientists involved performed a case-control study comparing people’s preference for sleep positions in 68 cases and 168 controls. The analysis was also stratified by age and gender and controlled for body mass index (BMI). They found there was a significant correlation between a preference for sleeping on the side and the presence of carpal tunnel syndrome in people less than 60 years of age. Likewise, BMI was also associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, but only in women. They concluded there was a strong connection between sleeping on one side and the presence of the condition, suggesting that sleeping position could lead to carpal tunnel but doesn’t prove a direct link.

If you wake up with tingling in your hands, consider buying a wrist splint for sleeping. A split will prevent you from positioning your wrist awkwardly and putting too much pressure on your median nerve. However, if your symptoms are so severe you can’t button clothing, put on earrings, or touch your thumb to your little finger, then the nerve could be degenerating. If your nerve condition has reached this level, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Carpal tunnel can usually be treated with cortisone injections to reduce inflammation in the area, but some patients do end up needing either open surgery or a minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. Make sure you get your wrists examined. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be debilitating and difficult to live with, particularly if you don’t get it treated.

If you need physical therapy or massage therapy to relieve your pain, don’t hesitate to call us. Our Aberdeen physical therapists would be happy to offer you dedicated and compassionate service. Contact us at (732) 333-6360 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.

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