What Jobs Can Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist, causing pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes compressed or squeezed as it passes through a narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carpal tunnel syndrome is presently the most prevalent hand-related ailment in the United States. The CDC also highlights that specific jobs are more susceptible to causing carpal tunnel syndrome. In this article, we will explore occupations that may elevate the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and the available treatment options for CTS.
Symptoms Of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand or fingers. Symptoms are typically more noticeable in the thumb, but the little finger remains unaffected. Carpal tunnel syndrome is attributed to strained tendons, categorizing it as a type of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
What is the cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be caused by a variety of factors, and it often results from a combination of multiple causes. Jobs that involve repetitive hand movements are often associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. The repetitive, quick, and forceful actions, such as frequent gripping and releasing, appear to be the primary contributors to this condition.
Here are some common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Repetitive hand and wrist movements
- Prolonged and forceful use of the hands
- Poor ergonomic practices
- Genetic predisposition
Job Tasks and Occupations Associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Certain jobs have a higher likelihood of causing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition that affects the hand and wrist. For example, telephone operators, cafeteria attendants (like those at food and coffee counters), and workers who assemble electrical or electronic components are at increased risk. In the hair styling industry, there’s often talk about hair stylists experiencing CTS as well.
Workers in manufacturing also face a higher risk of CTS due to the extensive use of their hands and wrists during long hours. For instance, production sewers continually pull and grasp fabric, assembly line workers handle objects on conveyor belts throughout the day, and carpenters frequently apply pressure to their palms while using vibrating tools. Similarly, computer keyboard users repeatedly engage in tasks involving the keyboard and mouse during their workday.
All of the jobs listed in the table below involve similar characteristics. Workers in these roles, who frequently perform rapid, forceful, and repetitive hand or finger activities, are at a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
|Job tasks and occupations associated with carpal tunnel syndrome
|Grasping and tugging fabric, pulling cloth
|Production sewer, tailor, garment worker/stitcher
|Handling objects on conveyor belts
|Pushing down ratchet, using screwdriver
|Using spray gun
|Janitor, personal support workers, kitchen and restaurant workers
|Playing stringed instruments with bow
|Using laser scanner at checkout
|Assembling small parts
|Electronic industry worker
|Wearing poorly fitting gloves which apply external pressure
|Agricultural worker, mechanic, factory worker, those working in cold temperatures
|Pressing tool into palm
|Painter, carpenter, stablehand
|Pounding safety lever or stamping machine
|Using air-powered hand tools
|Assembly worker, construction worker
Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are mild or expected to be temporary, treatment options include rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, cold packs, or using a splint. Chiropractic care has also been explored as a potential treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.
In cases where symptoms become severe and other measures do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery involves making a small incision in your hand and cutting the carpal ligament so that it no longer compresses the median nerve. Surgery should not be the initial treatment choice. Even after surgery, some patients may continue to experience issues.
Seeking a diagnosis and early treatment is crucial to address carpal tunnel syndrome effectively, and chiropractic care can be considered as a complementary approach to help manage symptoms in some cases. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific situation.
Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Workplace
Preventing carpal tunnel syndrome can be achieved by making changes to work setups, tools, and job processes while also educating employees. Designing workstations properly helps reduce uncomfortable wrist positions and lessens the impact of repetitive movements.
Employee training should focus on minimizing both awkward wrist positions and repetitive motions. It’s essential to educate workers about the factors that can increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
To reduce the physical strain of demanding jobs, employers should collaborate closely with their employees and align workers with suitable job roles.