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Symptoms and causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Many Bergen County residents spend the largest portion of their waking hours working. Many employees work at a desk, sitting in the same chair for hours on end using a computer keyboard. Although desk jobs aren't as physically challenging as other types of work, "cubicle" employees may still suffer occupational injuries.

Making physical movements over and over, like typing on a computer, may place you at risk for a repetitive stress injury. Pressure on the nerves and tendons that pass through the "carpal tunnel" of bones and ligaments in the wrists can cause tingling, pain and a loss of sensation or movement from the hands up through the arms.

A burning sensation in the fingers or palm area and grasping difficulties may accompany these symptoms, which become increasingly painful over time. The neurological disorder, which almost exclusively affects adults, is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition may be caused by internal swelling, traumatic injury, genetic predisposition, other health problems, the use of vibrating equipment at work and other job-related stress.

Research has shown men are three times less likely to be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome as women. Assembly line employees develop the disorder three times more often than data-entry workers. Physical exams and neurological tests help determine the source of carpal tunnel syndrome, although in some cases, the source remains unknown.

The type of treatment doctors recommend depends upon whether there is an underlying disease like arthritis or diabetes. A physician may restrict wrist and hand movements for a few weeks, prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medications, along with physical or occupational therapy, or recommend outpatient surgery to relieve nerve pressure.

Workers' compensation claims for job-related carpal tunnel syndrome may be questioned or denied unless an employee can prove the painful disorder was caused or made worse by job tasks. Attorneys can help carpal tunnel victims gather evidence to support benefits' claims.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet," accessed April. 07, 2015

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