A Pain in the Wrist

That sharp pain in your wrist might be one of the more common repetitive stress injuries—carpal tunnel syndrome.

2014 study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that carpal tunnel syndrome tied for first among nonfatal illnesses and injuries for most days missed from work. The median amount of time someone with carpal tunnel syndrome took off from work was 32 days.

Avoiding This Occupational Obstacle 

Carpal tunnel syndrome affected 3.1 percent of the adult workforce in 2010. While workers in some industries are more at risk, everyone should be on the lookout for symptoms so they can make adjustments to behaviors and delay or prevent the onset of additional symptoms.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located in the wrist surrounded by small bones and a strong band of connective tissue. Its borders are rigid. The median nerve, one of the primary nerves of the hand, travels through the carpal tunnel on its way from the neck to the hand. This nerve is joined in the carpal tunnel by the nine tendons that bend the fingers and thumb. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when pressure is placed upon the median nerve either due to the narrowing of the tunnel or the swelling of surrounding tissues. This results in pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand. To reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, consider the causes and avoid these when you can.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Causes

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the primary causes of carpal tunnel are:

  • Heredity. For some people, a narrow carpal tunnel runs in the family.
  • Repetitive hand motion. Repeating the same hand movements over an extended period of time can aggravate the tendons in the wrist, resulting in swelling that can put additional pressure on the median nerve.
  • Idle wrist position. Activities that involve flexing or extending the wrist in extreme ways for lengthy amount of time can put pressure on the nerve.
  • Pregnancy. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause swelling within the wrist.
  • Health conditions. Certain conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and thyroid gland imbalance, have been linked to a greater risk of carpel tunnel syndrome.

Any of these situations can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Getting Treatment 

When carpal tunnel develops, doctors can offer several treatment options including braces, physical therapy or surgery, if conservative methods fail.

It can take up to 12 months after surgery before gripping and pinching strength is back to 100 percent.

The Carpal Tunnel Careers

Carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t just a problem for office workers. Numerous jobs and industries can increase the risk for developing this condition.

For instance, assembly-line workers are three times more likely to develop the condition than data-entry personnel.

Additionally, the following careers are known for their high rates of carpal tunnel syndrome amongst workers:

  • Automotive service technicians and mechanics
  • Bus and truck drivers
  • Carpenters
  • Electrical power-line workers
  • Food service managers
  • Janitors and cleaners
  • Painters and construction workers
  • Welders

Sources: 

nih.gov,nih.gov, umm.edu, nih.gov, bls.gov, cdc.gov, aaos.org