Fibromyalgia and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Fibromyalgia is typically characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and myriads of other debilitating symptoms that make life difficult for patients.

The symptoms vary from person to person and apart from pain and fatigue symptoms there is notably inability to get refreshing sleep, waking up tired and stiff and developing cognitive disturbances including lack of concentration and clumsiness, dizziness etc.

Patients tend to be sensitive to changes in the weather, to bright lights, noise etc. Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic and long term condition that has no cure. About 10 million people are currently diagnosed with this disorder. Although 9 out of 10 people diagnosed are women, men also get this disorder.

Fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome

Studies have shown that there is a high prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in patients with fibromyalgia. For one, both conditions are common in middle aged and older women. Their individual prevalence in the population is 2% and 9.2%, respectively.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on criteria suggested in 2010 by the American College of Rheumatology.

Carpal tunnel syndrome typically includes a history of numbness, loss of sensation or pain in the fingers that are connected to the median nerve at the wrist. The narrowing of the tunnel in the wrist where the nerve passes is the main pathology associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Studies and surveys have shown that fibromyalgia is present in nearly a quarter (22.6%) of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. If only the women patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are considered, nearly 50% have fibromyalgia as well.

Both conditions occur simultaneously in nearly 10% of all patients. The odds ratio for patients with any one of the conditions of showing the other one is around 2.4.

Both fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome leads to pain and numbness associated with a subjective sensation of swelling in the hands especially in the mornings.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Spencer Tolkas Spencer Tolkas United States says:

    Then perhaps I may not have dismissed the tingling in my hand, the need to shake it every 5 minutes. The new pain in my elbow on month 3 and my inner voice that still thinks the doctor probably thinks I complain about every little thing when in reality I live in mire pain daily than he will ever understand. ( not that he's not compassionate but you can't know or understand the pain unless you have lived with it) Now I'm having surgery this Monday and the surgeon says my chances of full recovery are zero. I have a 50% chance of no improvement or worse off. All of this could have been avoided had I spoken up about different ongoing pain. He even thought it was a pinched nerve from my all over arthritis so we waited another 4 months for it to go away. I wish any MD making the fibromyalgia diagnosis would have some kind of literature to give us patients. There is so much out here on the web it gets repetitive and sometimes just aggravating. I had no idea this was something to look out for and now I may never get to write a letter again.

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