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When To Leave Work Due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


More and more people are leaving or staying home from work due to carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS due to the symptoms they suffer. In 1995 alone, around $270 million was spent on illness days for these patients to get some relief away from the workplace. CTS evolves in the wrist where bones and muscles create a smooth operating passage for the median nerve. This median nerve is what gives us sensation and the ability to move our thumb and first three fingers. If this nerve is compressed, hence CTS, we can suffer pain, numbness, cramping and swelling—and these are only the basic symptoms of CTS. CTS can also cause head and neck aches, and backaches.

People at work should take pause if their CTS symptoms are severe and try to avoid situations that make them worse. More and more employers are purchasing smart videos or computer software that reminds their worker’s with CTS to stop and take breaks and offers up exercises they can do to help relieve pain.

It has been shown that women have highest rates of CTS and are three times more likely to develop CTS. It may be because the size of the carpal tunnel might be smaller in women than in men, however, researchers are still unsure of this.

Workers employed in jobs like manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, and data entry often develop CTS. A surprising fact, when most people look at CTS only being the result of typing away on that old keyboard all day long, is that workers who held assembly line jobs had a higher risk of CTS.

So, when is it time to leave work due to carpal tunnel? That question is personal for each person who suffers from CTS and their employer. More and more, the US is seeing employee manuals talk about CTS and what the employee should do in case of an outbreak of symptoms. Just as employers tell their employees that if the weather outside is beginning to get so bad that they should leave the workplace early, some are doing this with carpal tunnel or telling them to stay home altogether.

While more studies are needed, approximately $30,000 is spent during the lifetime of a carpal tunnel sufferer from medical expenses and missed workdays. Workman’s compensation insurance companies are demanding more research not only from the science world but the employer world on helping to enhance worksites ergonomically and hold training seminars on how to avoid CTS outbreaks and when to know if your pain needs attention.

The days of thinking that CTS doesn’t exist are over and while employers are being more open minded about their workers who suffer from CTS, the best ways to help with CTS symptoms when you are at the workplace is by trying to prevent them altogether.

One good, proven, and recommended way is to have a good bone and joint doctor fit you with a good wrist brace that you can wear at work, at home, and while you sleep. Prevention of symptoms and the use of anti-inflammatories is still considered the best way to treat CTS. Some say surgery is a good choice, however, we found that almost fifty percent of people with CTS who had surgery, redeveloped the condition when they returned to their jobs. Through analyzing work risk factors, telling employees when to take a break and giving them exercises to do, and using good ergonomic equipment is cutting down on people leaving work due to their CTS symptoms.