Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain in your entire arm, but not without the help of another neurological disorder.

To relieve the whole arm pain, you must have both conditions treated.

In order for carpal tunnel syndrome to lead to pain in the entire arm, a second condition involving the nerves must be present.

“A condition or phenomenon, called double crush, exists where the nerves can be irritated or impinged in two separate locations,” says John-Paul H. Rue, MD, orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

“A common example of this may be seen when someone may have cervical (neck) radiculopathy, and the nerves exiting the spinal canal in the neck may be pinched or irritated by a herniated disc or other cause within the cervical spine.”

What does that mean?

Radiculopathy refers to the radiating of pain out from its original source, even though there may not be any pain at the source location.

In other words, if you have a herniated disc in the neck, you will not necessarily have neck pain.

A herniated disc is actually a bulging disc. The bulging presses on nerves.

“This may make the nerves more excitable or irritable, and more sensitive to damage elsewhere, such as at the wrist in the carpal tunnel,” says Dr. Rue.

“In this case, it is often necessary to treat both sites of involvement in order to get full relief from the nerve symptoms.

This is fairly common, requiring careful review of your history of symptoms, detailed physical examination, and EMG (nerve testing) to differentiate the problem.”

Dr. Rue specializes in prevention and treatment of sports and exercise injuries. His primary focuses are knee, shoulder and elbow injuries including ACL and cartilage injuries, rotator cuff injuries and overuse tendonitis.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.