Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Prevention and Support

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of musculoskeletal injury that usually involves numbness and tingling in the fingers with wrist pain. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. It can be caused by repetitive hand movements with awkward hand positions, forceful exertions, or prolonged use of vibrating tools.

To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and support workers in the workplace, here are some measures that can be taken:

1. Ergonomic Workplace Setup: Ensure that workstations are properly set up to reduce strain on the hands and wrists. This includes having adjustable chairs, desks, and computer monitors at the right height, and providing ergonomic keyboards and mice.

2. Regular Breaks and Stretching: Encourage workers to take regular breaks to rest their hands and stretch their fingers, wrists, and arms. This can help prevent the accumulation of strain on the hands and wrists.

3. Workstation Assessment: Conduct regular assessments of workstations to identify any potential risks or ergonomic issues. This can help in making necessary adjustments and ensuring workers have the proper tools and equipment for their tasks.

4. Training and Education: Provide training sessions on proper ergonomics and hand positioning to raise awareness among workers. They should be educated about the correct way to perform tasks, avoid awkward postures, and use tools and equipment safely.

5. Job Rotation and Task Variation: Encourage job rotation and task variation to reduce the repetitive use of specific hand movements. This can help distribute the load across different muscle groups and reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

6. Correct Tool Usage: Ensure that workers have access to proper tools and equipment that are in good condition. Tools with ergonomic designs and features can reduce the force required and decrease the strain on the hands and wrists.

7. Health and Wellness Programs: Promote and support overall employee health and wellness, including regular exercise, healthy diet, and stress management. A healthy lifestyle can improve overall blood circulation and reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

It is important for employers and employees to work together to create a safe and supportive workplace environment that reduces the risk of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. Regular communication, training, and assessments can help identify and address any issues before they lead to injury.

I, personally, have sore wrists and numbness in my fingers, and I learned that it is important to seek medical advice from a specialist. The specialist can examine you and diagnose whether your symptoms are caused by carpal tunnel syndrome or another condition.

In addition to seeing a specialist, the Occupational Health Centre’s ergonomist also did an assessment of my workstation. The ergonomist evaluated how I interacted with my workstation and identified potential ergonomic risks that were causing my symptoms. They suggested adjustments or modifications to my workstation, such as adjusting the level of my keyboard tray, switching the mouse to the left-handed side in order to rest the right arm, and adjusting the chair for proper sitting posture.

Based on the recommendations made by the occupational health physician and ergonomist, I was able to follow their advice and implement the recommended changes to reduce the risk of injury and alleviate my symptoms. It is important to take care of your health and well-being to maintain your productivity and quality of life, both in and out of the workplace.

To gather more information about carpal tunnel syndrome or to determine if it is work-related, you can reach out to OHC to discuss your symptoms and concerns. They will be able to schedule an appointment for you with a physician who specializes in occupational health. The physician can assess your condition, ask specific questions about your work activities, and determine if your symptoms are indeed work-related, and will have the resources to provide you with detailed information and guidance specific to your situation. Additionally, OHC’s ergonomist is available to meet with your health and safety committee or safety representative to identify any potential ergonomic hazards, provide preventative training, and propose solutions to make the work environment safer for all workers.

Remember, seeking professional guidance and involving experts is crucial to obtaining accurate information, a correct diagnosis, effective treatment, and meaningful workplace recommendations for carpal tunnel syndrome issues or any other work-related conditions.

Occupational Health Centre is making strides to educate health and safety committees and workplaces about the importance of ergonomics, musculoskeletal injuries, and specifically Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A number of Resource Sheets are provided on our website involving CTS, Ergonomics, Repetitive Strain Injury, Low Back Pain, and Overuse of Hand Held Devices.

Also, as part of our annual Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness (RSI) Day activities, OHC hosts an annual event in which experts give short presentations on ergonomics and musculoskeletal injuries. Last year, the topic of ‘Making the Link Between Psychosocial Factors and Musculoskeletal Injuries’ was held virtually. All the past presentations can be found in the Webinars section of our website.

Join us on RSI Day, celebrated on February 29th, 2024 for another exciting event. Watch for more news in the new year!