I thought an article about managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) at work, written by Julie Gormley and Anne Harriss in Occupational Health magazine, would be of interest to you. It’s a case study that might shed some light on what you are experiencing. If you think you might have CTS, see if you can relate to “Jane.”
CTS, as we’ve looked at before, is considered the most common “peripheral nerve syndrome.” Its prevalence in the general population is estimated to be between 2.7% and 5.8%, and is more common in women and manual worker occupational groups. This compression trauma can be related to the position in which the hand and wrist are habitually held. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness to the fingers and thumbs.
As reported by Gromley and Harriss, Jane, a 37-year-old nurse, went to the occupational health (OH) department following a referral from her manager for an assessment of her fitness for work. She had been experiencing pain, numbness, and weakness in her fingers and thumbs.
Jane had worked within the same fast-paced technical department for 15 years. Her hobbies included gardening and she had no significant underlying medical conditions. Jane’s job included working three 12-hour shifts per week, in a role requiring a high degree of repetitive, intricate manual dexterity.
Initially, Jane experienced dull, aching pains and numbness in her hands, affecting manual dexterity and fine manipulation and adversely impacting on work performance.
Jane indicated that she had to limit the time she undertook manual dexterity tasks, ¬especially in relation to her hobby of gardening. She experienced hand pain and weakness when holding and gripping ¬objects and while applying digital pressure. She also experienced a decreased sense of touch in her fingertips, describing her hands as feeling “clumsy”. These symptoms directly affected her ability to carry out her job tasks safely.
As CTS can be related to the position in which a hand and wrist are habitually held, the OH nurses provided health promotion and awareness-raising activities regarding the risks of poor posture. This is especially important in a fast paced work environment that demands high levels of repetitive manual dexterity, and where long shifts are worked. They further recommended that during post employment assessments staff whose role requires repetitive work with hands and arms, are educated regarding the risks of poor posture.
As you know, one way of managing CTS, at work and at home, is to not exacerbate it. Whenever you write, use my ergonomically designed UGLee Pen – you won’t be putting added pressure on the median nerve.
(Photo credit – antiaginghacks.com)