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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Signs That It’s Time to See a Doctor

The Chicago Tribune had an interesting report recently about carpal tunnel syndrome, in which it interviewed experts about warning signs and when it is the right time to see a doctor.

According to the newspaper, there is no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, although overuse of the hand and wrist at work are often contributing factors in people obtaining the condition.

Dr. Anton Fakhouri, a hand, wrist and elbow orthopedic surgeon in Illinois, told the Tribune that people should look out for warning signs including waking up with pain at night in the wrists, and issues when buttoning or unbuttoning clothing.

“Symptoms often begin gradually and without a specific injury to the wrist or hand,” Dr. Fakhouri said. He also recommended people visit a doctor if:

  1. Symptoms (pain in the wrist, hand and fingers) linger for several weeks to months

  2. You have lost hand, thumb or finger function, indicating your nerves are compromised

  3. Pain and issues with feeling restricts normal activities

  4. You have complications handling objects and are consistently dropping items

Early diagnosis can help people avoid worsening issues later on with carpal tunnel syndrome. Occupational therapy can also help prevent permanent damage or the need for surgery.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an Occupational Injury

It should be noted that carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of a repetitive motion injury (RPT) that is common in American workplaces. If you suffer from an RPT due to your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

RPTs can keep employees out of work for extended periods, as they experience pain and a limited range of motion. This makes doing work impossible and can place great stress on someone, if their family depends on their income.

Sectors where RPTs are common include manufacturing, electrical work and construction. Additionally, it has been shown that some office jobs, where employees are consistently performing the same tasks, can contribute to RPT injuries. If you believe that your employer is putting you at risk for an RPT, it may be a good idea to ask for task modifications.

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