Carpal tunnel misconceptions

Despite a common perception, multiple clinical studies have yet to find a strong connection between heavy computer use and a person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. People who used a computer for up to seven hours a day have been found to have no increased risk.

Some jobs that do not involve a keyboard are more likely to lead to the condition, assembly line work for example. High-risk jobs include:

  • Cleaning
  • Finishing
  • Manufacturing
  • Packing meat, fish or poultry
  • Sewing

In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is three times higher among assemblers than among data‑entry personnel, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

So Why Do My Hands Hurt?

It takes a specialist to distinguish carpal tunnel syndrome from conditions such as tendonitis. Here are a few copycats, and how to tell them apart:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Tendonitis Arthritis
Gradual progression Sudden or gradual Gradual progression
Weakness in hands Stiffness in hands Stiffness in hands
Lost sense of heat
and cold
May feel hot May feel hot
Pain at night or
outside work
Pain during activity Pain comes in “flares”;
morning pain and stiffness
No swelling Swelling in tendons Swelling in joints
Starts in dominant hand Occurs where there is
stress on tendon
Starts in both hands

Since arthritis, tendonitis and other conditions may be compounded by carpal tunnel syndrome, if you have numbness, pain or weakness in your wrists or hands, it’s a good idea to get a specialist involved.

To find a hand specialist at Durham Regional Hospital, visit durhamregional.org.

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