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April is Occupational Therapist Month which celebrates the professionals who help their patients recover from injury and return to everyday activities. In 2014 a study was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The study 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 a 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.

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital Therapy offers a range of outpatient and inpatient therapy services including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. We assist a variety of patients with vast functional differences. Our whole-patient approach to therapy helps patients get back to their normal everyday activities. For more information, call 479-215-3021.

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 among 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

Northwest Health Occupational Medicine is a full service occupational health clinic providing a comprehensive approach to managing workplace injuries with a focus on recovery of function and returning the injured employee to the workplace as soon as possible. Services include physical exams, DOTs, work-related injury care, rehabilitation, preventive health services, work consultation, drug screenings and more. Located inside Siloam Springs Medical Plaza at 3721 E. U.S. Highway 412 and may be contacted at 479-215-3090.

General News on 04/03/2019

Print Headline: A pain in the wrist

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