One of the major causes of work-related injury in the United States is carpal tunnel syndrome. It affects approximately 3 to 6% of the U.S. population, which equates to about one in every 20 adults. Carpal tunnel syndrome is fairly common in all industries. People who are particularly at risk are those who work jobs that require them to hold their hands in an awkward position for long periods or perform forceful, repetitive motions of the hands.
If you believe you may have carpal tunnel syndrome due to your work activities, you should report your condition to your supervisor as soon as possible so you can start receiving treatment. The prognosis for resolving carpal tunnel syndrome is better the sooner intervention takes place.
Surgery is usually the last resort for treating carpal tunnel syndrome after nonsurgical treatments have failed. There are two types of surgery performed to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Open surgery involves making an incision in the palm of your hand and cutting the ligament that puts pressure on the median nerve.
Endoscopic surgery can also treat carpal tunnel syndrome. This requires making smaller incisions around the hand and wrist to insert a camera to visualize the carpal tunnel and small surgical tools to perform the release. Endoscopic surgery is less invasive than open surgery with shorter recovery time.
Many patients respond to nonsurgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if they seek medical attention early. Injections with corticosteroids may calm down the irritation of the median nerve and reduce the swelling that it causes. Nighttime splinting can hold your hands in a better position while you sleep. This helps to reduce your symptoms while you are awake without inhibiting your usual activities.
Some doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. However, NSAIDs’ effectiveness at treating it is in question due to a lack of evidence.