The carpal tunnel is a passageway that runs from the forearm through the wrist. Bones form three walls of the tunnel and a strong, broad ligament bridges over them. The median nerve, which supplies feeling to the thumb, index (4th digit), and ring fingers (3rd digit), and the nine tendons that flex the fingers, passes through this tunnel. This nerve, also, provides function for the muscles at the base of the thumb (the Thenar muscles). Usually, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is considered an inflammatory disorder caused by repetitive stress, physical injury, or medical conditions that cause the tissues around the median nerve to become swollen. The protective lining of the tendons within the carpal tunnel can become inflamed and swell or the ligament that forms the roof over the median nerve becomes thicker and broader and presses on it. Dr. L, an orthopedic surgeon stated " It's like stepping on a hose. Slows the flow of water through a garden hose. The compression on the (median) nerve fibers by swollen tendons and thickened ligament slows down the transmission of nerve signals through the carpal tunnel." The result is pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrist, hand, and fingers. This does not concern the little finger (5th digit) because the median nerve does not affect it.
It is often very difficult to determine whether the primary cause of CTS is primarily due to work conditions or an underlying medical problem. CTS almost always occurs in adults and most adults work; CTS, then is very likely to be associated with the work place whether or not it is actually caused by work itself. Estimates of work-related CTS vary wildly. Some studies suggest that more than half are due to workplace factor...
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...s for CTS and other sufferers of repetitive stress injuries can be very helpful in exchanging information and offering advice and comfort. Stress management techniques can be also be useful in dealing with the psychologic and emotional issues accompanying these injuries.
* Brown, James, "Pregnancy related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" Journal of Hand Surgery, 1998,
Feb; 23(1): p. 98-101
· Shellito, P., "A Case study of obesity as a risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome in a population of 600 patients presenting for independent medical examination" Journal of Hand Surgery, 1997, March: 24(1): p.122-31
· Simon, H., "Incidence of diagnosed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a general population." Epidemiology, 1998, May; 9(3):342-5
· Statko,Lori, "Safe' typing: It's in the hands" CTDNews, 1996 LRP Publications, attached article.
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