A new study reported in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—Global Open® has found an association between carpal tunnel syndrome and migraine headache, in which patients suffering with one exhibit higher risk for the other. The findings add a new piece of evidence in the ongoing debate over the use of nerve decompression surgery as a treatment for migraine headache. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 26,000 Americans responding to a national health survey. After adjustment for other factors, the odds of having migraine were 2.6 times higher for those with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) among the study cohort. Conversely, the odds of having CTS were about 2.7 times higher for those with migraine.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common of a group of related conditions called compression neuropathies, with symptoms related to pressure on nerves. Historically, migraine has not been considered to be a compression neuropathy. However, some studies have reported improvement in migraine headache after surgery to relieve pressure on nerves at specific migraine "trigger points." This treatment approach remains controversial, and the study authors called for further investigation of the association between the conditions. Read a news story about the findings, with link to further information here.