What is Carpal tunnel syndrome and what are the causes? Probably many of you already know the answer but sometimes a good review will remind you about how important it is to avoid this problem from happen to you, especially who work daily on a computer.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the median nerve. Median nerve is the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to the "thumb side" of the hand (the palm, thumb, index finger, middle finger, and thumb side of the ring finger).
The area in your wrist where the nerve enter the hand is called the carpal tunnel. This tunnel is normally narrow, so any swelling can pinch the nerve and cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness or muscle damage in the hand and fingers. The symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. This is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. Typing on a computer is probably the most common cause of carpal tunnel. Other causes are sewing, driving, assembly line work, painting, writing, use of tools (hand tools), sport such as racquetball or handball, and playing some musical instruments.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occur most often in people 30 to 60 years old and is more common in women than men.
There are some other medical problems associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, including: Bone fracture and arthritis of the wrist, acromegaly, diabetes, alcoholism, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, kidney failure and dialysis, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and pregnancy, infections, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.
Below are some surgery pictures of a carpal tunnel syndrome patient:
There are ways to avoid the injury to the median nerve. Avoid the number of repetitive wrist movements whenever possible. Use tools and equipment that are properly designed to improve the wrist posture during typing thus will reduce the risk of wrist injury such as split keyboards, keyboard trays, typing pads, and wrist braces.
Take frequent breaks when typing and always stop if there is tingling or pain.
These pictures show you the correct way to work on computer:
Hand exercise for carpal tunnel syndrome:
I tried to upload the pictures, but some reason it didn't work.
This is a good overall review of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, I have just one comment. For some reason, there is perpetuation of the myth that keyboarding or typing CAUSES carpal tunnel syndrome.
While improper wrist positioning may exacerbate an underlying CTS, typing and key boarding do NOT cause CTS.
This information has been put by the ASSH (American Society for Surgery of the Hand) and the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has even done research on the topic and has shown that typing does not cause CTS. Many countries and states have dropped CTS as a workman's compensation case in employees who type.
Again, for some reason, this myth seems to keep going onward. People just keep repeating what they have heard or read, but never really investigated the topic themselves.
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) has the position of:
"What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Usually the cause is unknown. Pressure on the nerve can happen several ways: swelling of the lining of the flexor tendons, called tenosynovitis; joint dislocations, fractures, and arthritis can narrow the tunnel; and keeping the wrist bent for long periods of time. Fluid retention during pregnancy can cause swelling in the tunnel and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which often go away after delivery. Thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes also can be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. There may be a combination of causes."
The Mayo Clinic has also done research on the subject, from their website:
"Workplace Factors: It's possible that working with vibrating tools or on an assembly line that requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist may create harmful pressure on the median nerve, or worsen existing nerve damage. But the scientific evidence is conflicting and these factors haven't been established as direct causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. There is little evidence to support extensive computer use as a risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome."
This also: by ASTRID COOK Observer-Reporter Online[06/17/01]
"A study released this week offers some surprising and not-so-surprising insight concerning the infamous repetitive stress disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome. For some time now, nearly everyone assumed the problems associated with carpal tunnel syndrome - pain and numbness in the wrist and hand - were caused by the repetitive action of data entry on a computer keyboard.
However, while key strokes and mouse clicks may exacerbate carpal tunnel, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona have found that computer use does not cause the problem. Doctors long have suspected that carpal tunnel and computers were not related, although common wisdom has put blame on new technology. Thus, the Mayo Clinic findings did not come as a surprise to neurology professionals."
So, yes, the computer keyboard still gets the rap, but there is no research to show it causes CTS, and the research there is, says is DOES NOT cause CTS.