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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you have noticed recent tingling, numbness or pain in your hand(s), you may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome caused by your California job. As OrthoInfo.com explains, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your median nerve becomes squeezed or compressed as it passes through your wrist.

Your carpal tunnel is a narrow one-inch wide passageway in your wrist surrounded by your carpal bones on its sides and bottom. Your transverse carpal ligament forms the tunnel’s roof. Due to the rigidness of both your bones and the tough tissue of which your ligament is composed, your tunnel has very little stretching capacity.

How carpal tunnel syndrome begins

When you overuse your flexor tendons, the ones that move your thumb and fingers, particularly when doing a repetitive job such as typing or computer data entry, the tissues surrounding them can swell. Since these tendons, too, pass through your carpal tunnel, as well as the synovial tissues surrounding them, the tunnel “fills up” and the synovial tissues cannot perform their job of lubricating your tendons. The resulting carpal tunnel malfunctioning puts excessive pressure on your median nerve that produces the pain, tingling and numbness you feel in your wrist(s) and hand(s).

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition that invariably gets worse over time. While initially you may be able to relieve its symptoms by switching to an ergonomic keyboard, changing the elevation of your typing surface, wearing a wrist splint, etc., the longer you continue performing your repetitive movements, the more likely you will ultimately require surgery.

Risk factors

If you are a woman, particularly a pregnant one, and/or an older worker, your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome increases dramatically. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Repetitive hand movements of any type
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid gland imbalance
  • Heredity

Carpal tunnel syndrome is not an injury per se. Rather it is a progressive work-related condition that ultimately could disable you as your hands become ever more painful, numb and/or weak. In its most severe form, you could not only become unable to hold things without dropping them, you also could lose awareness of the location of your hands in relation to your body or anything else.

While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand carpal tunnel syndrome and what to expect.

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