Can carpal tunnel syndrome lead to osteoarthritis?

Both arthritis and CTS are potential culprits for hand pain and numbness. Arthritis raises the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Plus, CTS symptoms can be very similar to arthritis symptoms, so it’s important to know the characteristics of this condition.

The narrow space that’s formed between the bones and ligaments in the center of your wrist is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve—which controls the sensation in your thumb, index finger, and middle finger—runs through this space.

When the tendons that also run through the carpal tunnel become inflamed, they can irritate the median nerve, causing pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and arm. This is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Unfortunately, both of the most common types of arthritis raise the risk for CTS—particularly rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of the carpal tunnel tendons. Osteoarthritis of the wrist may be a culprit too.