If you are a Massachusetts worker whose work entails repetitive action involving the hands, you may start to experience pain in your wrist and hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed. This is the nerve that runs from your forearm through your wrist into your hand. The median nerve relays messages that allow you to move muscles around the base of the thumb. If anything crowds or compresses this nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, the swelling can irritate and crowd the nerve, causing symptoms.
Other risk factors can increase the likelihood that you develop carpal tunnel syndrome in response to repetitive work. Among these are smaller carpal tunnels (an anatomical issue), gender (women are more likely to develop it), inflammatory or other medical conditions like obesity and kidney failure, and fluid retention. Studies conflict as to whether work conditions all by themselves can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, anecdotally, a number of people with risk factors who work long hours as computer scientists or journalists do develop carpal tunnel syndrome and experience fading symptoms when the work is reduced or more breaks are taken.
If you experience symptoms in your wrist and hand, you should see a physician as soon as possible. He or she may conduct a physical exam, testing the feeling in your fingers and your muscle strength. He may also take an X-ray. He may also conduct an electromyography test or nerve conduction study. Your doctor might also refer you to a specialist, if it seems like another medical disorder is causing the compression of your nerve. Continue reading →