Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Cases Rise
The number of people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is on the rise, with excessive use of smartphones and other electronic devices thought to be to blame.
Many people with the condition end up having to have surgery.
Pressure on the nerve
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a relatively common condition, with between 7% and 16% of people in the UK having it at some point. It is most common in middle-aged women.
It is caused by pressure on the nerve in the wrist, which leads to tingling, numbness and pain in the hand and fingers. People may also have problems with gripping things, and there may be swelling in the wrist.
Sometimes CTS clears up by itself. Some people need to wear a wrist splint for a set period of time, to help relieve pressure on the nerve. Taking painkillers can also help, as can steroid injections.
However, if the CTS does not get better, surgery is often required. Surgery usually cures CTS and it is short, simple operation.
CTS can be caused by a number of things, including being overweight, doing work that means repeatedly bending of the wrist or gripping hard, having long-term conditions such as arthritis or diabetes, and having a wrist injury.
Pregnant women are also at a higher risk of CTS due to a build-up of fluid in the tissues in the wrist. This causes swelling, which squeezes the nerve, causing tingling and numbness.
Cases of CTS have increased over the last five to 10 years, and it is thought that using smartphones could be to blame. There has been a significant increase in younger people (under 40) being seen with CTS.
Repetitive movements in the hand and wrist, such as tapping, swiping and scrolling, compress the nerve in the wrist, leading to CTS.
A study of young people in Hong Kong who used their phone, laptop, computer or played video games for five hours or more a day found that almost 45% of them suffered wrist or hand pain, whereas none of those who didn’t use devices as much suffered wrist or hand pain.
This study, and others, found that the more time people spend on devises, the more pain they suffer, and the longer it lasts. It is recommended that people take regular rest and exercise breaks to reduce their risk.
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