carpal tunnel syndrome


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repetitive stress injury

repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury (RSI), injury caused by repeated movement of a particular part of the body. Often seen in workers whose physical routine is unvaried, RSI has become epidemic since computers have entered the workplace in large numbers. Many RSIs develop when the sheaths that cover muscle tendons swell and press on nerves. Constant typing can cause one form of RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sometimes disabling pain and tingling in the thumb and first two fingers. It is caused by swelling and pressure on the median nerve passing through the wrist. Other common problems are rotator cuff injury, from overuse of the shoulder; tennis elbow, inflammation of a tendon in the elbow from overuse of the forearm; and back injuries from repeated heavy lifting. A 1998 report by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States called RSI a serious national problem, with financial costs ranging up to $20 billion annually.

Treatment of RSI usually begins with attempts to change the conditions that caused the injury. Often, exercises and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed; in some cases surgery is necessary. Many workers' compensation cases and lawsuits relating to RSI have been brought against employers and product manufacturers. To avoid the high costs of RSI, some businesses have introduced ergonomic workstations and enforced rest periods.

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carpal tunnel syndrome

[¦kär·pəl ¦tən·əl ′sin‚drōm]
(medicine)
A condition caused by compression of the median nerve in the passage between the wrist and carpal bones; characterized by nocturnal pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

carpal tunnel syndrome

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

carpal tunnel syndrome

A disorder that causes numbness in the hand and pain in the wrist due to the compression of the median nerve, which runs down the arm to the fingers. The pain can extend all the way to the neck and be extremely severe. People may have a genetic predisposition to this malady and those who suffer with thyroid problems, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are believed to be more susceptible.

Short, Repetitive Movement
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by short, repetitive movement, such as typing, knitting, and using vibrating tools for hours on end. Constant mouse movement is also a factor. The lack of rest in between these motions irritates and inflames the flexor tendons that travel with the median nerve to the hand through an area in the wrist called the "carpal tunnel," which is surrounded by bones and a transverse ligament. The inflamed tendons squeeze the nerve against the ligament.

The Treatments
The prescription for typists may be as simple as wrist exercises and the use of a wrist rest or ergonomic glove. The more severe remedy is surgery, in which the transverse ligament is cut to relieve pressure. See RSI and medical conditions.


The Median Nerve
There is so little space in the carpal tunnel that when the tendons get inflamed, the median nerve is pressed against the transverse ligament. (Image courtesy of www.carpal-tunnel.com.)







Rest the Wrist
High wrist rests help to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome by keeping the wrists elevated above the keyboard. Unfortunately, they are not widely found in retail stores.







Mousing Twists the Bones
The healthier way to grab a mouse is in the "handshake" position, whereby the forearm bones are not twisted. Evoluent's vertical mice keep the arm in this proper orientation. (Images courtesy of Evoluent, www.evoluent.com)


Mousing Twists the Bones
The healthier way to grab a mouse is in the "handshake" position, whereby the forearm bones are not twisted. Evoluent's vertical mice keep the arm in this proper orientation. (Images courtesy of Evoluent, www.evoluent.com)







An Ergonomic Glove
IMAK Products' Smart Glove uses a removable splint (upper cutout) to keep the wrist in the proper position. The ergoBeads (bottom cutout) massage the area to increase blood circulation and promote healthy muscle tissue. (Image courtesy of IMAK Products Corporation, www.imakproducts.com)
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References in periodicals archive ?
The use of diagnostic ultrasound in carpal tunnel syndrome. J Hand Surg Am 2006;31:726-32.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: Prevalence in the general population.
Patients referred by clinicians with clinical diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Patients of any sex willing to undergo the tests were included.
A comparison of the benefits of sonography and electro physiologic measurements as predictors of symptom severity and functional status in patients with Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2008;89(4):743-8.
The median nerve terminal latency index in carpal tunnel syndrome: a clinical case selection study.
Ultrasound imaging in the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome and its relevance to clinical evaluation.
Association of occupational and non-occupational risk factors with the prevalence of work related carpal tunnel syndrome. J Occup Rehabil 2008; 18:152-156.
Questionnaire tools for the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome from the patient history.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: pathophysiology and clinical neurophysiology.
During the 9-year study period, 579 patients underwent surgery due to carpal tunnel syndrome. There were 133 (23%) men and 446 (77%) women.
In general, studies about the CTS and trauma have focused on short term complications of trauma involving a pressure increase in the carpal tunnel [66]: as anything that irritates or compresses the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, these findings hint for a more accurate recall of previous personal history in the case of the CTS patients.