Workers in various industries in North Carolina develop tingling, burning and pain in their hands and arms. This happens when their jobs require them to make repetitive motions with their hands for many hours without breaks. Repetitive stress injuries can affect other body parts, depending on the movements required.
If your job requires you to make the same hand motions repeatedly, you might develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is in your wrist, and small carpal bones line the tunnel’s sides and floor. It forms a passageway for the median nerve and also holds the nine flexor tendons that make it possible to bend your fingers. Repetitive strain on those tendons causes them to swell — the swelling crowds the carpal tunnel, causing pressure on the median nerve. The result can be debilitating enough to jeopardize your ability to do your job.
Possible causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This repetitive stress injury is work-related, but some non-work-related conditions can increase your risk:
- The most common cause is repeating the same wrist and hand motions over prolonged periods.
- Extreme flexing or extending your wrist and hand will cause increased pressure on the nerve.
- Your genes can play a role here. A trait of narrow or small carpal tunnels can run in your family, which might cause swelling and pressure sooner than it would in a co-worker with a wider carpal tunnel.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with health conditions like thyroid gland imbalances, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
- Hormonal changes that typically occur during pregnancy could cause swollen tendons.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition that develops over time and not after a specific injury. Look out for the following symptoms:
- Burning, pain, tingling and numbness can occur in your thumb and middle, index and ring fingers.
- Tingling and pain may travel up your arm toward your shoulder.
- Your hands may feel weak, and you could become clumsy with tasks like buttoning your shirt or other fine movements.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause numbness, weakness or proprioception that could cause you to drop things.
You might find that the symptoms come and go, but they could become more frequent and last longer each time. Seeking medical care as soon as possible is best because prompt diagnosis and treatment could prevent severe consequences.
Fortunately, workers in North Carolina who develop work-related repetitive stress injuries are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits usually pay medical expenses immediately, and a portion of lost wages for temporary disability will form a part of the compensation.