MONDAY, March 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Carpal tunnel syndrome appears to increase risk for migraine headaches, and migraines may make it more likely that you'll also have carpal tunnel syndrome, new research suggests.
The study is the first to find a link between carpal tunnel syndrome and migraine, but the connection is unclear, said Dr. Huay-Zong Law and colleagues of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. The two conditions may share some "common systemic or neurologic risk factor," they wrote.
The researchers analyzed data from nearly 26,000 Americans who took part in a health survey. About 16 percent said they'd suffered a migraine within the past three months, and nearly 4 percent had carpal tunnel syndrome within the past year.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include hand numbness and weakness, caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, the researchers noted. Migraines are recurring attacks that often involve throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting.
Thirty-four percent of people with carpal tunnel syndrome had migraines, compared with 16 percent of those without the nerve disorder. After adjusting for other factors, the researchers concluded that the risk of migraine was 2.6 times higher in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Similarly, more than twice as many people with migraines had carpal tunnel syndrome -- 8 percent versus 3 percent of those without migraines. After adjusting for other factors, the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome was 2.7 times higher among migraine sufferers, according to the authors of the study published March 23 in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery -- Global Open.
The research team also found some shared risk factors for migraine and carpal tunnel syndrome, especially obesity, diabetes, smoking and being female.
The findings may help "inform" the debate over the use of nerve decompression surgery to treat migraine, the researchers said.
"Recently ... there is some evidence that migraine headache may be triggered by nerve compression in the head and neck, with some patients responding to nerve decompression by surgical release" of pressure at specific migraine trigger points, the researchers noted.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about migraines.