Numbness, tingling and pain emanating from the thumb, index and middle fingers, as well as the median nerve, typify CTS. The condition results from pressure on the median nerve where it passes into the hand under a ligament at the front of the wrist, through the gapped carpal tunnel.
The median nerve carries sensory messages from the thumb and the fingers to the brain, to generate many hand movements related to compression activities, such as using the conventional frosting-bag in the bakery for cupcake decorating purposes.
In cases of CTS, some portion of the median nerve is mobile, though compressed, while the remainder is trapped, rendered immobile by expanded tissue in the tunnel. Repetitive wrist motions cause the free parts of the ligament to slide painfully along the swollen tissues, compressing it, resulting in the chronic injury.
Because motor stimuli in the hand are also negatively impacted by the emergence of CTS, consequent damage to nerve generates often significant sensory disturbances to the worker. Fundamental symptoms assume the multiple forms of hand weakness, numbness, or a particular tingling under the flesh. Affecting either hand individually or both simultaneously, weakness of the thumb can occur, reducing the hand’s ability to grip objects. Paroxysmal attacks of burning pain and paresthesia (itching, prickling feelings) are also common consequences of CTS.
Female bakery workers, and those suffering from diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, myxedema, acromegaly, and hypothyroidism show a heightened tendency to be affected by CTS. However, the increased likelihood of these individuals showing or contracting CTS does not mean they cannot be productive bakery workers, or need to be relieved of icing-specific duties.
That it so because introducing mechanized icing-equipment, such as EZFrost, ends the necessity of relying on repetitive motion activities like those required for using traditional icing-bags. Thus, the overuse of physical activities leading to and increasing CTS-symptoms is eliminated.
Where these changes are not made to the workplace, reliance on conventional icing-bags will continue, and with it the need for medical rehabilitation of affected employees. CTS has no entirely reliable cure; treatment results are at best hit and miss. Surgery, cutting into the ligament to relieve pressure on the nerve, may be necessary to eradicate the condition, but is not always successful when enacted. Corticosteroid treatment or resting the hand in a splint can alleviate symptoms, but may be short-lived. Workers returned to CTS-causing jobs often face recurrence of the condition and the need for further rehabilitation. Weakness of the grip following rest and rehabilitation is a common complaint, one that frequently necessitates moving the worker to another job.
In most cases, workplace-generated CTS renders the employee eligible Workmen’s Compensation (WC). The worker needs to be removed from the job-schedule at the outset, and compensated; reduced work-schedules for two or more years following CTS-diagnosis are the norm. Remember, as well, that in addition to the costs your company must pay for employee treatment, workflow expenses increase due to worker-downtime and the need for training new employees to replace those affected by CTS.
The federal Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers carpal-related injuries among the conditions requiring specific ergonomic solutions for their prevention. Once contracted, these conditions are subject to costly WC claims and even lawsuits for lost wages, etc. The resultant expense detracts from your bottom-line.