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Understanding carpal tunnel syndrome

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2018 | Workers' Compensation |

If your Missouri job requires you to perform repetitive motions with your hands, fingers and/or wrists, you face a high risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Typing represents the most common cause of job-related carpal tunnel syndrome, but other jobs such as those found in the construction industry that require you to constantly perform the same motions with your hands can also put you at risk.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful and progressive condition affecting one or both of your wrists’ carpal tunnels, the narrow passageways through which your median nerves and flexor tendons run from your hands to your arms. Your transverse carpal ligaments form the roof of your carpal tunnels and your carpal bones form their sides. Since these bones and ligaments represent rigid structures, your carpal tunnels have little ability to stretch.

How carpal tunnel syndrome begins

Your flexor tendons are the ones you use to move your thumbs and fingers. When you overuse them through repetitious motions, your surrounding synovial tissues swell and become unable to lubricate them. This, in turn, causes pressure on and squeezing of your medial nerve, resulting in pain.

Risk factors

Your risk factors for developing work-related carpal tunnel syndrome include the following:

  • Performance of any type of repetitive hand movements
  • Your age and length of employment
  • Your underlying health conditions including such things as as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid gland imbalance, etc.
  • Pregnancy
  • Various heredity factors

Once you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, you begin to feel pain and/or numbness in your hands, wrists and arms that becomes progressively worse over time. At its very beginning, switching to an ergonomic keyboard or wearing wrist splints may lessen your carpal tunnel discomfort, but ultimately you likely will require surgery.

Keep in mind that carpal tunnel syndrome itself is not an injury. Rather, it represents a work-related condition that invariably becomes worse the longer you must continue to perform the same repetitive hand and wrist motions. In severe cases, you could lose feeling in your hands and become unable to hold objects without dropping them unless you undergo surgery.

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