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Carpal tunnel syndrome: progressive, painful and debilitating

Millions of workers in and around the San Diego area work on assembly lines, at computers or engage in other repetitive hand and arm movements day in and out. Some of these workers will be stricken with a painful and disruptive condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The carpal tunnel is a "narrow, rigid passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand" which is comprised of tendons and the median nerve. In cases where swelling or irritation occurs, the nerve may be compressed. When this occurs, an individual may experience a range of physical sensations from numbness and tingling to sharp and radiating pain.

In addition to the pain, swelling and numbness an individual may experience; one may also suffer a loss of functioning in the fingers, hands, wrists and even arms. The condition is progressive in nature and often impacts workers who perform assembly line tasks, work within the fishing industry and professional cleaners. Additionally, women develop the condition at a rate three times that of men.

Upon first noticing numbness, tingling sensations or pain; an individual would be wise to report these types of symptoms to an employer and seek medical care. Without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen over time and can eventually lead to permanent nerve damage.

Upon being diagnosed with the condition, it's important to closely follow a doctor's recommendations and to rest the affected hand or hands. Depending on the severity and progression of the condition, treatment options may include drug therapy, exercises and surgery.

Workers who have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. In many cases, it's wise to consult with an attorney who handles workers' compensation claims and who can assist in procuring the maximum amount of benefits related to one's injuries.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet," April 23, 2015

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