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A better understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome

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What is carpal tunnel syndrome, and where is the carpal tunnel? Mayo Clinic explains: The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located on the palm-side of your wrist that “protects a main nerve to your hand and the nine tendons that bend your fingers.” Carpal tunnel syndrome results from compressing this nerve, which produces “numbness, tingling and, eventually, hand weakness.”

How does it happen?

To understand how someone develops carpal tunnel syndrome, you must first understand the inner workings of hands. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the tendons of a person’s hands are encased in sheaths through which tendons slide. These sheaths produce a lubricating fluid for the tendons, which is important for the smooth functioning of tendons. However, repetitive or excessive movement of the hand can result in the lubrication system not working properly. “Failure of the lubricating system creates friction between the tendon and its sheath causing inflammation and swelling of the tendon area,” CCOHS states. This swelling squeezes the median nerve, which can cause fibrous tissues to form and hinder tendon movement.

Avoiding the condition

Carpal tunnel syndrome has been associated with repetitive hand motion, gripping items too strongly, awkward hand positions and vibration, among others. To help prevent developing the syndrome, CCOHS recommends redesigning workstations to avoid awkward wrist positioning to help minimize “the stressful effects of repetitive motions.”

In addition, workers should be trained on the risk factors that can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. “This is achieved by implementing worker training and job rotation, and by matching employees to job assignments,” CCOHS advises.

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