When excessive continuous pressure is placed on the medium nerve, the nerve that allows feeling to parts of the hand, the condition known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome develops. The primary symptom of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is numbness of the thumb, index finger and ring finger. When one bends a wrist forward for any length of time and feels pain it is a sure sign that CPS is present. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have identified work related repetitive tasks, force, posture and vibration as major causes of CTS. A recent study showed that there is in many instances, a greater risk for CTS to affect worker production, than basic physical factors such as obesity. It should be noted that similar injuries caused by falls, slips, motor vehicle accidents or other similar accidents are not recognized as work-related causes of CTS by OSHA.
To initiate the cure for CTS one must stop or at least alter the way in which their job function is being performed. A health care professional should review the activities one is assigned. For example, many cases of CTS are caused by those who work with computers and thus with computer keyboards. Those workers are constantly using those very fingers that can cause the problem. In this case, the worker’s seat might have to be adjusted so that it would be easier to have the wrists and hands in-line with the forearms. A change in shoulder and elbow position may also have to be altered. The cumulative effect is to have much less pressure on the medium nerve. Computer manufacturers have helped relieve the symptoms of CTS by developing more ergonomic keyboards and typing pads. A line of wrist braces is now available to help wrist posture. Tools and equipment also are becoming more ergonomic as suppliers are listening to the problem of CTS and are responding to it. A slightly different work schedule, allowing for more breaks for those involved in repetitive type work can also be of great help in the reduction of symptoms.
In severe cases of CTS a surgical procedure can be performed whereby the ligament that is pressing on the nerve is cut. While often successful, recovery from a surgical procedure can take many months, becoming costly to the worker and employer. It should be noted that OSHA requires that every employer to provide a safe workplace. Employees must be informed of all potential hazards and how to best deal with them. The goal is to prevent CTS and other workplace related injuries before they happen.