Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be a Work-Related Injury?

Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be a Work-Related Injury?

According to OSHA, repetitive stress injuries (RSI) constitute one of the most costly occupational health problems affecting Americans. Carpal tunnel syndrome belongs to the group of common RSI, however, the question whether or not it is a work related injury is often dubious.

What is CTS? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed and inflamed. The symptoms include but are not limited to pain in the hand, tingling, numbness, and wrist weakness. There are multiple factors that may contribute to developing this condition, including age, arthritis, gender or anatomic factors. However, certain cases may be associated with particular activities, such as repetitive hand motion, strong gripping, typing, using vibrating tools or awkward hands positioning. All of these create a damaging pressure on the median nerve.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work related injury? 

Any worker who is required to use their fingers or wrist in a repetitive motion on a regular basis is at high risk of developing CTS. Painters, mechanics, assembly-line workers, cashiers and many other occupations are prone to suffer from this condition at some point. However, it is still an object of debate whether a particular case qualifies as a workplace injury since it has been proven that repetitive motion injuries are not the only cause leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. Factors like obesity, diabetes or prior wrist trauma may cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well. Sometimes, medical evidence along with review of the work environment are necessary in order to determine whether or not a specific case is actually work related. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that carpal tunnel syndrome has been the leading disability due to the amount of employees that must take time off from work.


There are many ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, varying from self-care like putting ice packs on the affected area, to wearing wrist braces and hand splints, attending physical therapy and taking anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. If the symptoms persist regardless of the treatment methods, surgery may be necessary. This will take pressure off the median nerve and bring relief to the symptoms.

If you feel you may be suffering from CTS, or to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, contact us today.


The Remarkable Hand

What makes humans so “human”? While there are certainly many factors – spiritual, emotional, physical – that make us human, the human hand is a unique appendage that opened up amazing possibilities in our becoming human.

From our opposable thumbs to the amazing sensory receptiveness of our fingertips, the human hand is ideally sculpted for exploration and manipulation of this incredibly complex world. A study at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 2013 determined that the human finger can find an irregularity as small as 13 nanometers, which is less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. With sensory tools like that at our disposal, it’s not surprising we humans have done as well as we have!

Let’s spend a minute and look at the basic set-up of the hand.

The eight bones of the wrist are called the carpal bones. The carpal tunnel is the narrow passage through which passes all of the blood and nerve supply for the hand. You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when, for a variety of reasons, that passageway no longer allows for friction-free passage of the tendons, nerves and blood supply to the hand, causing pain and dysfunction.

The five long bones that stretch from your wrist to the base of your fingers are called metacarpals, and the individual bones of your fingers are called the phalanges (phalanx is singular). The muscles and tendons that move your hands and fingers are incredibly sensitive, allowing us to pick up tiny objects, while they are strong enough to lift frying pans and carry babies!

It’s amazing all that we can do with our hands! However, when we begin having pain or discomfort in our hands, it can be difficult to function in the day-to-day. If you are experiencing pain in your hands or wrists, please contact us to set up an evaluation.

Avoid injuries when working in the garden

Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine has tips to keep you safe in the garden this spring and summer.

It’s the time of year when many of us head outdoors to plant our gardens and that means another chance to suffer an injury.

One of the most common injuries suffered in the yard and garden occurs in the hand. The repetitive motions of gripping a shovel or pulling out weeds can take its toll on our hands. As noted by, common hand injuries are either repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that any activity you perform for more than two consecutive hours or more than four hours per day puts a person at risk for repetitive strain injuries. These injuries are common with weeding, planting and digging.

The repetitiveness of working in the garden can also lead to tendinitis as you continue to use your wrist. The tendons in the wrist can become tender or inflamed because of the repetitive motion.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur when you feel tingling in the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and middle finder side of the ring finger. Carpal tunnel involves the median nerve that runs from the neck of the hand. This can occur with many common garden activities.

So how can you prevent a hand injury in the garden? Just like you can prevent an injury before playing a sport by stretching. Click here to read more about proper stretches before you begin your gardening project.

It’s also important that you wear gloves to prevent infections and to take breaks every hour or switch activities to avoid repetitive strain injuries.

Stop what you’re doing if you begin to feel pain in your hand. You can also contact Dr. Irvine at Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine to look at your hand injury. Dr. Irvine treats numerous conditions in the hand and wrist, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, Dequervain’s Tenosynovitis, fractures, and much more.

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