Most Saginaw, Michigan, workers are confident in their abilities to perform their jobs. They know that their managers and co-workers can depend on them to complete their daily work tasks to the best of their abilities. And, while they may from time to time go to work with small aches and pains, they know that it is important to recognize any physical signs that may develop into a more serious condition. For many workers in the automotive, petrochemical and construction industries, a condition that they must monitor is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
CTS is a condition that can affect the wrist of either or even both hands. Inside the wrist, there is a large nerve called the median nerve that runs from a person’s forearm to their palm. This nerve runs through a narrow tunnel of bone and ligament in the wrist area, which is also known as the carpal tunnel. When the tendons that surround the median nerve swell, they compress it, leading to tingling, pain and a feeling of numbness. The symptoms of CTS may be manageable initially, but over time the condition gets worse.
There are many factors that can lead to CTS. These include maintaining awkward wrist positions, constant repetitive motions and failing to rest the wrist. Stressful conditions can also play a role in the development of CTS. These include maintaining too tight a grip on tools, performing a consistent twisting motion of the wrist or other vigorous movements of the hand and fingers and using powerful vibrating tools.
The initial medical treatment for CTS is resting the affected wrist, limiting the repetitive movements that may have caused the condition, minimizing the amount of vibration on the wrist and keeping the wrist in a non-flexed position. It can also help to talk to one’s job supervisor to find out if there are any aspects of one’s job that may have had an effect on the worker’s wrist.
Medical care for CTS includes rest, cold compresses and the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery can also be performed that can help relieve the pressure on the median nerve, but this surgery is not always 100 percent successful. But, should workers find themselves facing the possibility of lost work days and lost wages due to CTS, they should look into the possibility of filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
Source: Teamster.org, “Carpal tunnel syndrome,” April 20, 2015