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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Depending on what type of work you do at your Michigan job, you may have to perform a number of repetitive motions every day. If these motions involve your hands, fingers and wrists, you could wind up with carpal tunnel syndrome. As the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains, carpal tunnel syndrome starts in your wrists, but almost invariably progresses to your hands, arms, shoulders and possibly even your neck and back.

To understand carpal tunnel syndrome you must first understand a little about the anatomy of your fingers and wrists. Your wrists actually each contain a carpal tunnel, the narrow opening through which nerves and tendons go from your fingers and hands to your arms. Specifically, your flexor tendons move your fingers and thumbs. Your medial nerves transmit feeling, including pain.

Carpal tunnel anatomy

The roofs of your carpal tunnels are made up of your transverse carpal ligaments, and their sides are composed of your carpal bones. Neither your bones nor your ligaments “give” very much, making your carpal tunnels very narrow indeed. Should your repetitive movements cause the synovial tissues in your carpal tunnels to swell, they cannot lubricate your flexor tendons. Consequently, they put pressure on your medial nerves, and this pressure results in pain.

Carpal tunnel pain

Usually the first sign that you have carpal tunnel syndrome will be mild pain or numbness in your wrists. If you work at a computer, switching to an ergonomic keyboard may ease your pain and delay the progress of your carpal tunnel syndrome. Wearing wrist splints may likewise delay carpal tunnel progression. Unfortunately, however, once you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, your pain and numbness, plus their progression into your hands and up your arms, will continue to escalate. Ultimately you likely will require surgery.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is not, in and of itself, a workplace injury. Rather, it is a workplace condition that worsens every day that you must continue to perform the same repetitive motions. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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