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Carpal tunnel can lead to distress and discomfort for workers

Whether toiling away at the office or hard at work on a construction site, Pennsylvania workers afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome know just how painful this condition can be. While causes of carpal tunnel can range from genetic predisposition to past injuries, workplace stress is often a factor in developing this disorder.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describe carpal tunnel as compression of the median nerve (the nerve that extends from the forearm to the palm). Irritated tendons can swell, thereby narrowing the pathway of the median nerve and resulting in compression. This can cause a number of ill-effects, such as weakness and numbness in the hand and/or wrist, as well as a radiating pain that travels up the arm.

Carpal tunnel is often first identified by a burning or tingling sensation in the fingers and palm. Symptoms frequently start at night due to the tendency of wrist flexing during sleep, and can affect one or both hands. Over time one’s gripping ability will significantly decrease, which can impact the performance of certain manual tasks. Failure to receive treatment may even result in muscle wasting and the inability to distinguish between hot and cold sensations. 

While the painful effects of carpal tunnel can’t always be avoided, the Mayo Clinic offers a few useful methods for reducing discomfort and distress. For those jobs that entail continual performance of manual tasks, frequent rest breaks are key. This is particularly important when using tools that vibrate, which can wreak havoc on the delicate structures within the hands and wrists. Employing a more relaxed grip is also helpful, as is improved posture, which serves to relax nerves in the neck. 

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