Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


I broke my wrist trying to learn how to do a flip on my son's skate board (dumb human trick). I had surgery to put it all back together, and now I have carpal tunnel on that side. Is there a connection or is it just my bad luck?


There are many potential causes of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Most people are familiar with CTS from repetitive motions, especially from activity in the work place. But CTS can also occur as a result of a wrist fracture. Symptoms of CTS begin when the median nerve gets squeezed inside the carpal tunnel of the wrist, a medical condition known as nerve entrapment. The carpal tunnel is a canal formed by the wrist bones arranged in a circle. Nerves and blood vessels pass through the tunnel going from the wrist to the hand. Anything that causes pressure inside the carpal tunnel can compress the median nerve leading to CTS. There are two bones in the forearm: the ulna and the radius. The radial bone is the larger of the two forearm bones. It's on the thumb side of the forearm. A recent study showed how the risk of CTS after a distal radial fracture increases if the two ends of the bone are displaced (separated). Distal refers to the end of the bones in the forearm that's closest to the wrist. The researchers found that increased pressures within the carpal tunnel following fracture was the main cause of the acute CTS. With a fracture, there can be contusion, deformity, or swelling from elevated pressure within the tunnel. Any of these problems can cause median nerve dysfunction and lead to permanent damage of the median nerve. Early recognition and treatment of any of these factors can prevent long-term problems. George Dyer, MD, et al. Predictors of Acute Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Associated with Fracture of the Distal Radius. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. October 2008. Vol. 33A. No. 8. Pp. 1309-1313.

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