Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by the entrapment of the median nerve in the wrist that then causes paresthesia, pain, numbness, and other symptoms in the distribution of the median nerve. It appears to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the predisposing factors include: diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and heavy manual work or work with vibrating tools. The main symptom of CTS is intermittent numbness of the thumb, index, long and radial half of the ring finger. Long-standing CTS leads to permanent nerve damage with constant numbness, atrophy of some of the muscles of the thenar eminence, and weakness of palmar abduction.
The relationship between work and CTS is controversial; in many locations, workers diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome are entitled to time off and compensation. In the USA, carpal tunnel syndrome results in an average of $30,000 in lifetime costs (medical bills and lost time from work). Some speculate that carpal tunnel syndrome is provoked by repetitive movement and manipulating activities and that the exposure can be cumulative. It has also been stated that symptoms are commonly exacerbated by forceful and repetitive use of the hand and wrists in industrial occupations.
Suggested healthy habits such as avoiding repetitive stress, work modification through use of ergonomic equipment (wrist rest, mouse pad), taking proper breaks, using keyboard alternatives (digital pen, voice recognition, and dictation), and employing early treatments such as taking turmeric (anti-inflammatory), omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins have been proposed as methods to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.