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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

People who work with their hands on a regular basis have a higher risk of developing repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel. This condition occurs when the median nerve running through your wrist into your hand becomes irritated by inflammation in the nerve pathway, which causes compression.

Along with discomfort, carpal tunnel can also cause dysfunction that makes it difficult to do certain activities. Here are a few things to know about this condition in case you experience symptoms.

Causes

Carpal tunnel can result from many circumstances. Repeated use of power tools, computer equipment, and manufacturing processes are all thought to play a role in the development of symptoms. Repetitive movements may irritate the median nerve pathway, especially over long periods of time.

However, other factors can also increase your risk greatly. Women tend to develop the condition more than men, based on the fact that the nerve pathway in women is smaller. People with certain inflammatory conditions, those who are obese, and people with previous wrist injuries also have a higher risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms may seem minor at first and will gradually increase in intensity over time. Most people experience a tingling sensation in the hand and wrist, especially when gripping items, but they can also occur at night. If the median nerve is badly compressed, you can also experience numbness. In this case, you might find it difficult to maintain a grip on items as you hold them.

Treatment

The best treatment depends on how serious your symptoms are. For mild to moderate symptoms, rest and ice therapy are often recommended. More serious dysfunction can call for wrist splinting, which keeps the hand and wrist stable to allow the inflammation to subside. When dysfunction and discomfort are significant, a doctor can inject a corticosteroid into the area to reduce inflammation.

You may also need to alter your work processes to prevent symptoms from returning after treatment. In this case, try to avoid repetitive movements and take frequent breaks at work to give your wrist a rest.