The carpal tunnel is an area on your wrist that is surrounded by small bones and ligaments linking the bones together. The tendons that allow your fingers and thumbs to flex pass through this tunnel area, and it also contains nerves that carry signals from your brain that control the fingers and hand.
If this area becomes sore and inflamed, it is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition that makes the hand and wrist difficult to use.
What Actions Can Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Develop?
Sometimes this condition can develop gradually as you age; however, many researchers have discovered that there are many jobs that cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
The condition often develops from repetitive or excessive hand movement, which causes the lubrication in the joints to malfunction, leading to inflammation.
Anyone who works in a job that requires repetitive hand movement, mechanical stress, or strong gripping can be at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Jobs with Repetitive Tasks
People who work in jobs that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements are one group that is at risk. For example, cashiers, hairdressers, and seamstresses would all fall into this category.
People who are required to flex and extend the wrist repeatedly, such as bakers, gardeners, and welders who use vibrating hand tools may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sometimes a workers compensation lawyer can help someone with work-related carpal tunnel recover workers comp benefits for their condition.
Carpal Tunnel and Computer Use
There is a correlation between carpal tunnel syndrome and those who work jobs that involve extensive computer use. Jobs such as data entry and typing that involve repeated use of a keyboard are a risk due to the fact that they require holding your wrists in a suspended position while typing the same keys over and over again.
In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome has become so common among office workers that it has led to the creation of special office equipment, such as ergonomic mouse pads and keyboards, to attempt to address the problem.
Risks for Manual Workers
Manual workers are also at high risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome as their jobs normally involve performing strenuous tasks with their hands.
Mechanics, assembly line workers, painters, carpenters, and janitors who must grip and manipulate special tools and instruments can cause excessive wear and tear on the wrist ligaments.
Artists and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
But it is not just people in hard manual jobs that can suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Many people do not realize that artists such as painters, sculptors, and musicians can develop this condition, even though their tools may not seem very hard.
This is because painting and sculpting require excessive use of the hands to create paint strokes or to mold clay over and over. Even musicians such as pianists are at risk for putting stress on their wrists.
How to Avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, workers should keep their hands and finger muscles strong and flexible by doing conditioning exercises a few times per week. When doing any repetitive task, it is a good idea to switch hands and shift your positions often. This will prevent you from being over-reliant on one hand. Take breaks as needed and rest your hands if they feel tired.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually treated conservatively at first with wrist splints to keep the hand and wrist stationary while you are sleeping.
Sufferers are often advised to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and discomfort. If these steps do not provide relief, sometimes surgery is recommended to relieve pressure on the wrist nerves.
For more information on the occupational risks of carpal syndrome, the following links may be useful: