A lot of people have probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome — the painful wrist condition — but not everybody knows exactly what it is, what causes it and how their job could be a contributing factor. The syndrome is a common condition estimated to affect about 1 in 20 adults, and it can be a work-related injury.

What it is

The carpal tunnel is a thin passage made of bone and ligament inside of the wrist, which allows the fingers’ nerves and tendons to pass through it. During the syndrome, tissues in the tunnel swell and press on a vital nerve — the median nerve — which can cause tingling, numbness and pain in the hand, as well as possibly even loss of hand function if the condition goes untreated.

Occupation, a big factor

Tasks involving the wrists or hands contribute to developing or worsening the syndrome, especially when the motions are forceful, repetitive, prolonged, involve an awkward posture or vibrating tools. Needless to say, occupations that require these kinds of tasks can be a big contributing factor in employees experiencing the painful condition.

Employees who work in industries like textile mills, apparel manufacturing and meat processing have reported high rates of carpal tunnel syndrome, but other occupations place workers at risk as well.

Some of the many jobs that could contribute to the syndrome include:

  • Assembly-line worker
  • Painter
  • Mechanic
  • Gardener
  • Janitor
  • Cashier
  • Construction worker

If you were afflicted by carpal tunnel syndrome due to an occupation, you may qualify to seek workers’ compensation from your employer.