Carpal tunnel is a passageway located on the palm side of the wrist. This tunnel is composed of connective tissues and bones that connect the forearm to the other portions of the upper extremities. Apart from these connective structures, carpal tunnel also houses the median nerve, which connects the upper limbs to a network of nerve attached to the spine (brachial plexus).
The median nerve is the only nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. However, injury to the carpal tunnel may result in the median nerve being compressed or ‘pinched.’ This medical condition is called carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS. This condition is characterized with weakness, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the affected upper limb. According to the website of WorkSTEPS, CTS primarily affects workers subjected to forceful and repetitive hand motions, such as those working in slaughter houses and factories. Those who are doing clerical and secretarial work are also at risk.
The symptoms associated with CTS may greatly affect your productivity. In fact, a Des Moines disability benefits lawyer may say that CTS has been associated with a number of short term disability applications in the country. Furthermore, because CTS can damage a person’s fine motor skills, this condition may profoundly narrow down the tasks that a person can accomplish, and thus may affect his/her capacity to make a living.
If you are prone to CTS and are experiencing numbness, weakness, and a tingling sensation in one or both of your arms, visit your physician right away for a CTS diagnosis. After studying your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may perform a series of tests to rule out other musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and bone fractures. These tests may include nerve conduction tests to measure how well your forearm receives electrical impulses, and imaging tests such as X-rays.
If you are at high risk because of the nature of your work, you may also do some preventive measures to reduce your chance of having CTS. For instance, ensure that you are using only ergonomically-sound tools and equipment while at work. You may also consider talking with your supervisor about getting short but regular breaks to stretch your forearms, especially if your tasks involve repetitive hand motions.