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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

If you use your hands to do any kind of repetitive work at your Pennsylvania job, you stand a good chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome at some point in the future. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains that while the pain of CTS generally begins in your wrists, it almost always progresses downward to your hands and upward to your arms. Eventually it may affect your shoulders, neck and back as well.

In the likely event that you never took a human anatomy course in high school or college, it may surprise you to learn that your wrists really do each contain a carpal tunnel. The nerves and tendons of your fingers and hands pass through these tunnels on their way to your arms.

Specific anatomy

Your transverse carpal ligaments make up the roof of each wrist’s carpal tunnel, and your carpal bones make up its sides. Since neither your bones nor your ligaments have much, if any, “give” to them, the synovial tissues that surround your flexor tendons passing through each tunnel swell when your hands perform constant repetitive movements, thereby failing to properly lubricate your flexor tendons. This, in turn, puts pressure on your medial nerves, causing you pain.

Carpal tunnel pain

If your wrists often hurt or feel somewhat numb, this is the classic early warning sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. You have no way of stopping the CTS progression once it begins, but you can slow it down by using an ergonomic keyboard if you do computer work and wearing wrist splints if you do other types of work that require your hands to make repetitive movements.

Carpal tunnel syndrome does not represent a workplace injury per se. Rather, it represents a painful condition brought about by your job. Ultimately you will need to undergo surgery to correct this condition and relieve your pain.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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