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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 Carpal Tunnel.

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.

  • Improves circulation and flexibility

  • Releives joint stiffness and pain

  • Easy to use

  • Lightweight and compact

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 easily.

  • Using a key to unlock a door

  • Grasping small items

  • Writing with a pen or pencil

  • Using a computer keyboad

To learn more about CTS, RSI and other repetitive stress-related injuries, visit the following web sites:

http://www.saveyourhands.com    Save Your Hands!
http://www.ninds.nih.gov    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Also, check out our FAQs and Helpful Links page for additional sites.

BLS: Stress injuries decline, Government Computer News. 19/10a. May8, 2000. Retrieved: http://www.gcn.com/vol19_no10a/news-briefs/1878 1.html?CMP=OTC-RSS  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. 2006. Retrieved: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm February 3, 2006.

Kao, Stephanie. Carpal Tunnel Syndrom As an Occupational Disease.
American Board of Family Practice. 2003 Posted on Medscape April 05, 2004. Retrieved: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/469485_print February 6, 2006.

Repetitive Strain Injury, Stifling the Pain in a Pinch. 2006 MotherNature.com.
Retrieved:http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/62/81.cfm February 3, 2006.


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