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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome accounts for 50% of all workplace related injuries in America. This is a surprising statistic, because there is a common belief that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is only caused by computer/keyboard related jobs. Although 25% of computer operators have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it is not uncommon to see this injury in other forms of work.

How does carpal tunnel syndrome occur?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes damaged. This can happen through overuse and repetitive motion in the wrist, causing compression to the nerve or compression to the carpal tunnel. Because the median nerve controls the movement of the fingers and thumb, those suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome have difficulty moving the muscles in the hand. The common symptoms include tingling, itching, burning in the hand and wrist area.

Woman are 3 times more likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than men due to the median nerve being smaller in women than it is in men. Also, those who have diabetes and other nerve disabilities are more susceptible to Carpal Tunnel. In the workplace, those who have a job in an industry, such as assembly line work develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome three time more often than those who do a computer/desk job.

Treatment

Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome varies. There is the option to go to physiotherapy or a chiropractor, but many who suffer from Carpal Tunnel claim that this kind of treatment is ineffective. The best treatment is to stop whatever aggravates the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs, ice and wrist braces can all help reduce the symptoms. In some cases, surgery is required, but this is not always effective as the surgery has a 57% failure rate resulting in people still experiencing one or more of the symptoms.

Prevention

The best way to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the workplace is to allow workers to perform tasks in a natural position. This is especially important when the job contains tasks that are repetitive for body parts such as the wrist. For example, if someone types for many hours in a day, their wrists should be parallel with the floor. Trainers and employers should instruct new employees on proper technique to complete the job safely and to prevent injury. Also, workers should be allowed to take breaks in order to give their muscles a break to ensure they continue to use proper technique.

Workers should be able to complete all tasks at their job safely using proper technique. During a SureHire Fitness-to-Work test, trained assessors are able to screen carpel tunnel syndrome to ensure that workers are able to complete their tasks at work safely to avoid injury.

Sources:

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm
http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/carpal.html
http://www.repetitive-strain.com/national.html