The definition of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is a “painful, progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist.  The median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.  In some cases, there is no direct cause that can be identified as CTS, rather it is that the carpal tunnel is simply smaller in some persons than others.  However, the risk of developing this ailment is especially common in those performing such tasks as assembly line work.”

Others who may be considered at risk of developing CTS are:

  • Painters
  • Carpenters
  • Check-out Clerks
  • Drivers of trucks, taxis, and buses
  • Musicians
  • Accountants
  • Computer Operators
  • Typists
  • Those with hobbies such as needlepoint, knitting, gardening

Suggestions to those who think they have CTS are:

  • See a physician when symptoms first develop
  • Rest the wrists as much as possible, use ice to reduce swelling
  • Use proper ergonomics (science used to fit job to person’s anatomy and physiology)
  • Use stretching techniques
  • Change position often, get up and move around
  • Exercise your hands
  • Keep wrists straight while sleeping
  • Stay in good shape.  Eat right, sleep right, and try to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take over the counter pain medication

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is a very controversial topic.  Scientific data provided by NIOSH states that while symptoms of CTS are associated with incidents of wrist postures or highly repetitive manual acts, causation has not been established.  Also, the American Society of Surgeons of Hand has current literature that does not support a causal relationship between specific work activities and development of the disorder.  The strongest risk factor for CTS is structural and biological (genetic predisposition), rather than environmental and activity related.

Following a history and physical examination by a physician, the patient will probably be referred to be tested electrodiagnostically.  The most specific and reliable test is Combined Sensory Index, or Robinson index in order to determine if the diagnosis is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome or some other disorder.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders

There are arguments about CTS being caused by repetitive movement of the hand, as this disorder happens when inflamed tissues press against a major nerve in the wrist.  Pain, numbness, even in the arm, and weakness are symptoms.  According to many physicians, these symptoms are not CTS, and can be relieved by rest, change of position, splints, and over-the-counter painkillers.