The Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S Department of Labor, stated that “repetitive motion, such as grasping tools, scanning groceries, and typing resulted in the longest absences from work in 2002.” They went on to discuss that among all the disabling injuries and illnesses, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome resulted in the highest absenteeism. The average Carpal Tunnel Syndrome injury costs approximately $4,000 in benefits and rehabilitation per patient. If surgical intervention is required these costs can rise to more than $20,000 per patient.
The Median Nerve
So what is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Some individuals experience pain when working while others suffer from pain constantly. The Carpal Tunnel is composed of eight small bones on the back of the wrist which form a letter “C” surrounded by a tough ligament. The median nerve runs through this tunnel as well. The Carpal tendon is made up of nine tendons that travel through and allow the forearm and fingers to interact with one another. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome displays symptoms of irritation when the median nerve becomes entrapped. Pressure in the Carpal Tunnel causes impingement of the median nerve. This increased pressure therefore causes immense swelling as well as pain. As the condition develops and worsens, the patient may have difficulty grasping and picking up objects-this is typically the end stage of the condition. They can also experience pain, burning, tingling, and numbness. This may cause them to not be able to work and go on worker’s disability.
The stress factors that cause carpal tunnel syndrome may also be caused by other problems such as headaches, fatigue, back and neck pain. When the tendons swell it compresses the median nerve. Anatomically, the median nerve extends from the neck, goes to the arm and eventually to the wrist and fingers. When there is pressure on the nerve it prevents impulses from traveling from the hand through the nervous system to the brain. If corrective steps aren’t taken, the nerve may become permanently damaged. We have seen a rise in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to the automation and fragmented worker’s tasks. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a repetitive stress disorder. Other workers that perform repetitive motions include: computer operators, typists, garment workers, butchers, meat packers, and assembly line workers. Athletes can also suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and they include: tennis players, golf players, and pitchers and batters in baseball. See your primary care physician today for your options and treatment.
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