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Why you shouldn't ignore that tingling or numbing sensation in your hands

On a daily basis, it's nearly impossible to count the number of times we use our hands. From buttoning up a shirt and grasping the steering wheel to opening a door and typing on a keyboard, people often take the use of their hands for granted. This is a reality that individuals who develop a debilitating condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome know all too well as they experience firsthand how difficult it can be to complete even simple and routine tasks without the full use of their hands and wrists.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may develop when a nerve in the wrist area becomes compressed and pinched. In its early stages, carpal tunnel often manifests as a tingling or numbing sensation in the fingers and hand. Often these sensations are especially noticeable in the "thumb, index and middle fingers" and may progress to the point where they become constant.

In addition to experiencing intense feelings of numbness and tingling, an individual is also likely to experience weakness in one's hands. Combined, the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel can make it difficult to impossible to perform many manual tasks including grasping an object or typing on a keyboard.

Individuals who are most at-risk of developing carpal tunnel include those who work at jobs where they perform repetitive motions with their hands and wrists, like assembly line and office workers. While treatment options such as employing the use of wrist splints and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs may help ease symptoms, in some cases surgery may be necessary.

Workers who notice any tingling or numbing sensations in their wrists or hands would be wise to immediately alert a supervisor or human resources manager who can refer a worker to a doctor and document a worker’s symptoms. In some cases, a worker who is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome may be unable to work and therefore qualify to apply for worker's compensation benefits.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Carpal tunnel syndrome," March 17, 2016

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