Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Common Work-Related Injury
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the many medical conditions known to be associated with repetitive movement. Common in many workplaces, carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is particularly caused due by the compression of the median nerve in the area where it passes over the carpal bones in front of the wrist. It’s characterized by symptoms affecting the hand and wrist, like pain, sensations of numbness, tingling, or burning, as well as a weakened grip.
Most people associate carpal tunnel syndrome with occupations that require a lot of computer usage, such as data-entry clerks and typists. However, carpal tunnel syndrome is also common for those working in assembly lines and other positions that require, as the Mayo Clinic puts it, prolonged and repetitive wrist flexing. Other workers at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include tailors, seamstresses, meatpackers, and janitors.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed through a series of tests. Individuals experiencing CTS symptoms, particularly when performing even simple tasks like holding one’s home or gripping the stirring wheel of a vehicle, are advised to see a doctor right away. Diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome comes after a physical examination, x-ray, electromyogram, and a nerve conduction study. Both the last two tests involve using electrical impulses to see how specific muscles react.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome might require surgical and nonsurgical options. Milder symptoms can be solved by wearing a wrist splint to minimize movement, along with taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. If this doesn’t work, a doctor might opt to inject corticosteroids into the affected area to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Meanwhile, more severe cases will have to be solved through surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery involves cutting the ligament pressing into the median nerve in order to relieve pressure.