Link Noted Between Migraines, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Migraines are more than twice as prevalent in those people who have carpal tunnel syndrome as those who do not, according to a study published online in Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery.

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center reviewed data from 25,880 people enrolled in the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, of which 952 (3.7%) had carpal tunnel syndrome and 4,212 (16.3%) had migraine headache. The National Health Interview Survey is based on health data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The research team noted that 34% of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome also reported migraines, compared with 16% of patients reporting migraines without carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Researchers also noted a similar effect in reverse: 8% of patients with migraines reported having carpal tunnel syndrome, compared with 3% of those with migraines but no carpal tunnel syndrome.

“Because carpal tunnel syndrome and migraine headache are so common, this association is relevant to the large number of people who suffer from these conditions. The association of these two distinct disease processes is a fascinating connection that needs to be explored further,” Douglas Sammer, Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery, and Chief of the Hand and Upper Extremities Division in Plastic Surgery, said in a press release about the findings. “Although we have theories, at this time we simply don’t know why people with carpal tunnel syndrome are more likely to have migraines, and vice versa. A deeper understanding of how and why this connection exists may lead to earlier diagnosis or even the ability to implement preventive measures.” 

Further studies are needed to determine whether migraines may be an early indicator for future nerve compression problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, the researchers said, as well as whether there is a hereditary component to the diseases.  

Because migraines are more common in younger patients, and carpal tunnel syndrome is more prevalent in older patients, it could be that migraines sensitize the central nervous system to develop pain signals from later nerve compressions, according to the study.

 

Man with migraine
People with migraine headache were more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a recent study.
Plastic surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center have demonstrated for the first time an association between migraines and carpal tunnel syndrome, with migraines more than twice as prevalent in those with carpal tunnel syndrome as those without, according to the study.
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