If you’ve experienced the pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that carpal tunnel syndrome causes in your hands, you’re not alone. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects as many as 1 in 3 workers in the United States. While most jobs require that you use your hands, some jobs and industries report higher cases of CTS than others. Is your job one of them?
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
As Dr. Donnelly explains in his blog post Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, CTS develops when the median nerve–the nerve that works alongside flexor tendons to help you to flex and feel in your fingers–is compressed or pinched at the wrist by swelling or injury. The narrow tunnel in the wrist where the median nerve and tendons sit is called the carpal tunnel. If a job involves forceful, repetitive tasks or places the hands in an unnatural position for an extended period of time, a worker can experience the symptoms that carpal tunnel syndrome causes.
What jobs aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome?
There are more cases of CTS reported among workers that perform repetitive hand movements. In a 2018 report by the California Department of Public Health and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trends indicated workers in apparel manufacturing, food processing and administrative support experienced higher numbers of workers’ compensation claims for CTS. These cases accounted for over six times the cases reported in all other industries.
“Workers in apparel manufacturing, food processing and administrative support experienced higher numbers of workers’ compensation claims for CTS. “California Department of Public Health
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes
Although our work may impact a preexisting CTS making symptoms more noticeable, other factors are typically the cause for the condition. Since the carpal tunnel is small, those with smaller wrists, and especially women, experience CTS at higher rates. As a result, genetics may be one of the primary carpal tunnel syndrome causes. Inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis is another culprit of CTS. Wrist fractures or other repetitive motion damage can also cause an occurrence.
“Most people don’t associate nerve or inflammatory conditions with carpal tunnel syndrome, but they could certainly affect your median nerve.”Brandon P. Donnelly, MD
Avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome
The CDPH report concludes that high-risk industries should consider implementing preventative and interceptive methods. Specifically, the report suggests workplace ergonomic evaluations and development of instruments and tools that correct awkward hand and wrist posture and require less repetition and force.
“High-risk industries should consider implementing preventative and interceptive methods [to prevent CTS]. “California Department of Public Health
How Is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
There are several treatment options for sufferers of CTS. At its outset, modifying activity and limiting the use of the hands can minimize discomfort. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the pain that carpal tunnel syndrome causes. Corticosteroid injections in the wrist can serve as a temporary anesthetic and be an anti-inflammatory solution. However, if these methods do not work, a minimally invasive surgery called a carpal tunnel release may be performed. This procedure involves carefully cutting the carpal tunnel ligament to relieve pressure on the pinched median nerve, relieving symptoms of CTS.
Don’t ignore the symptoms of CTS
Many people try to work through the pain that carpal tunnel syndrome causes in their hands and fingers. Ignoring the symptoms of CTS for too long can actually cause permanent damage. If you or a coworker suspect that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, schedule an appointment with Dr. Donnelly today.
This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.