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Utah Plastic Surgeons Link Migraines to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Utah Plastic Surgeons Link Migraines to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A study was released in April of this year showing a connection between chronic migraines and carpal tunnel syndrome. The results of the study suggest that migraines are nearly three times as prevalent in those with carpal tunnel syndrome as those without it. This is the first ever linking between the two conditions, and it will open the door to further exploration on the subject.

The Study

 A group of plastic surgeons incorporated with UT Southwestern Medical Center polled a random selection of patients to find that 34 percent of those who had carpal tunnel syndrome also reported frequent migraines. Only 16 percent of the patients stated that they had migraines, but no carpal tunnel syndrome.


 The research also showed a small link when it was reversed, showing that eight percent of those with migraines had carpal tunnel syndrome and only three percent of those with frequent migraines reported no carpal tunnel syndrome.


 This is the first ever approved study to find this link, but it opens the door for further investigation. “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,” reports Dr. Douglas Sammer, one of the investigating surgeons. “The association of these two distinct disease processes is a fascinating connection that needs to be explored further.”


Sammer also reported that they have theories regarding the connection, but no concrete evidence to back it up just yet. “A deeper understanding of how and why this connection exists may lead to earlier diagnosis or even the ability to implement preventive measures,” he continues.


The findings, which are published in the journal “Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery,” have received a 95 percent confidence rating, which means that further review is in order.


Cause and Effect Theory


In order to understand the theory behind this connection, it’s important to understand what the two conditions involve.


“Carpal tunnel of the wrist is a confined space which surrounds the median nerve,” says this carpal tunnel article from The Hand and Wrist Institute. The symptoms associated with the syndrome include “numbness, burning and tingling sparing the little finger is often reported, as is clumsiness, reduced grip strength, and weakness. Other, less common symptoms include writer’s cramp, shoulder pain, or even numbness in the third finger alone.” All of these symptoms occur as a result of damaged nerves. It’s a very challenging condition, since we use our hands more often than we realize.


Symptoms for migraines include pounding pain, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and bright spots in vision. We do not know the exact cause of migraines, but we do know that it is connected to intense and undue nerve pressure. This condition can also be extremely debilitating since the symptoms often make it impossible to function cognitively when impaired.


The pain, numbness, and other factors associated with both of these conditions comes as a result of issues with the nerves, which is why experts believe that they may be linked. Both are caused by nerve pressure, which could lead to both conditions.


This study may be groundbreaking in helping researchers determine the exact cause of migraines. Though it will take quite a bit more research, the information could lead to a cure for migraine headaches and preventative measures for carpal tunnel syndrome.


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