Workers in construction and other manufacturing jobs are more susceptible for developing carpal tunnel syndrome than those who work in office jobs, researchers at Henry Ford Health System suggest.

Manual labor jobs that require lifting, gripping and forceful wrist motion contribute to higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome, they note, in a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Injuries related to carpal tunnel have reportedly declined in recent years, according to the most recent figures compiled by the US Department of Labor. However, Henry Ford researchers, seeking to clarify conflicting information in previous research studies, suggest that injuries in labor industry jobs still outpace injuries associated with office jobs.

“This study is an important reminder that carpal tunnel is a primary contributor to hand and upper extremity pain in both the clerical and manufacturing work places, and that ergonomic conditions for workers in both industries should be equally considered.”

— Charles Day, MD, Executive Vice Chair and Chief of Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery of Henry Ford’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery and the study’s senior investigator

Workers At Risk

Workers at risk for carpal tunnel are those who do jobs that involve repetitive finger use. Motions that can place people at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • High-force hammering
  • Long-term use
  • Extreme wrist motions
  • Vibration

While carpal tunnel is one of the most-commonly reported occupational injuries, there are other potential causes or associations for this condition including diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fractures or trauma to the wrist, and many other factors, according to a media release from Henry Ford Health System.

To reduce one’s risk for developing CTS or worsening existing symptoms, Day recommends avoiding repetitive motion like lifting, grasping, holding a vibration tool, or typing on a keyboard.

Carpal tunnel surgery is recommended when it does not respond to non-surgical treatments or becomes severe. The surgery enlarges the size of the tunnel, which decreases the pressure on the nerves and tendons that pass through the space. This is done by cutting or “releasing” the ligament known as the transverse carpal ligament that covers the carpal tunnel at the base of the palm, the release notes.

[Source(s): Henry Ford Health System, EurekAlert]

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