Repetitive Stress Injuries &
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Statistics and Facts
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) affect over a half million workers each
year with costs for medical and workmen’s compensation claims exceeding
$30,000 per worker. These workers are required to perform repetitive
tasks, repetitive use of tools or repetitive grasping or moving objects as
part of their job-- not just people sitting at their desks doing key entry
or typing as RSI is often stereotyped. RSIs are more common than you might
expect; these injuries make everyday tasks as small as using an eating
utensil, or opening a door using a key incredibly difficult.
Early pathologists in the mid 19th
century took note of the compound stress disorders and symptoms similar to
CTS while working with their patients. Since that time there have been
many professionals who have added to these early observations. Carpal
Tunnel Syndrome was coined in the 1930’s, and later pathologists
and surgeons developed new surgical treatments in the 1940’s.
Who Gets RSIs?
Just as people are different, some people are more prone to RSI
(Repetitive Stress Injury) in the hand and forearms than others. Women are
twice as likely as men to contract these injuries. While many people experience these types of injuries, including
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, the disorders are still something of a mystery.
In addition to working conditions
and gender, it is believed that a person’s health plays a part in
susceptibility to RSIs. Some people with conditions such as diabetes are
more susceptible to CTS than others resulting from the activity within the
Anatomy of RSI Pain
The nerve pathway that leads from the fingers up the arm to the shoulder
is a network of peripheral nerves that can become painful or inflamed when
repetitive motions are performed. The nerves can be irritated (resulting
in a painful sensation) or compressed which would cause a lack of
sensation--much like when your arm falls asleep. One might feel numbness
and a tingling sensation while waiting for the arm to “wake up.” For
people with CTS-type symptoms, the median nerve that travels through the
“tunnel” formed by the Transverse Carpal Ligament, the pain, numbness and
tingling sensation results from the median nerve being compressed by
swelling in the hand or wrist. Common symptoms for RSI injuries include
swelling, numbness or tingling in the hand and/or fingers, along with
possible pain in the forearm.
There are a few exercises that can
assist in preventing this pain, numbness and tingling and get you back
doing the activities you enjoy.
Prevention and Exercise
If you are experiencing symptoms of CTS or RSI, you may learn that
there are a number of simple activities that you will have trouble with
like turning keys, using a screwdriver or playing a stringed instrument.
Typically therapists will recommend a combination of simple measures to
get you started: good posture, flexibility and
warm-up exercise, and strength exercises as a preventative and
maintenance measure for RSIs
. Targeting the hand and forearm with these solutions in mind can lead to
effective exercise tools. The key to effectively exercising for warm-up
and strength in the hand is to do it gently.
Hand Helper can help you
The Hand Helper is a uniquely designed hand exerciser that enables
users to strengthen, condition, restore and maintain healthy muscles and
joints. The easy-to-use exerciser plays a key role in helping users gently
increase strength and dexterity, improve joint mobility and reduce or
prevent the debilitating symptoms related to repetitive stress and strain
injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Perhaps most importantly,
exercising your hand regularly in a controlled, gentle manner you will
regain your ability to do some everyday activities with less pain and more
To learn more about CTS, RSI and
other repetitive stress-related injuries, visit the following web sites:
Save Your Hands!
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Also, check out our
and Helpful Links page for additional sites.
BLS: Stress injuries decline,
Government Computer News. 19/10a. May8, 2000. Retrieved:
February 6, 2006.
Carpal Tunnel Fact Sheet. 2006.
The Diabetes Monitor. Retrieved:
http://www.diabetesmonitor.com/b376.htm. February 3, 2006.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet.
February 3, 2006.
Kao, Stephanie. Carpal Tunnel
Syndrom As an Occupational Disease.
American Board of Family Practice. 2003 Posted on Medscape April 05, 2004.
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/469485_print February 6, 2006.
Repetitive Strain Injury, Stifling
the Pain in a Pinch. 2006 MotherNature.com.
February 3, 2006.
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