In 1990, I remember the front page of the medical section of San Diego Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times all showing pictures of people devastated by this new disorder called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). It became national news. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone in a wrist brace and in color too. They were making them to match your clothes!
I had been working as a sports massage therapist since 1985 and working muscles to keep them healthy. My athletes needed it. And then came the big new disorder, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I was aghast to think this was being made into a disease and later in 2007 at the National Conference of Orthopedics in San Diego, CA, it was announced it was a genetic disorder. I laughed! But it is no laughing matter when CTS is the biggest money-machine for the medical profession and is still today. Even Gary Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury cartoon serial got into the act. He did two cartoons to illustrate how society had embraced this disorder and made it the medical terror of the 20th century and now into the 21st century it still prevails. If you have hands, this musculoskeletal disorder is not going to go away!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
By definition, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the entrapment and compression of the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. It is only carpal tunnel syndrome if it affects the feeling in your thumb and first three fingers and half the ring and the nail beds of these fingers. Not the little finger.
Compression of the median nerve will be aggravated and cause symptoms such as:
• unable to hold, pinch or grasp objects
• loss of grip strength
• and there is pain that radiates down the arm, wrist and fingers
There are many occupations that use their hands more than most and are repetitive in nature. They are occupations that demand the use of the upper body + hands 8 + hours a day and in the same positions and use.
One occupation that has come to my attention and is at high risk is the Hair Stylist/Artist Industry. I recently went to get my hair cut and as I talked with my stylist, she mentioned her hands hurt her a lot. She is young and beginning her career. She was already feeling the ravages of the intensity of her job. Before she began, I did the Montgomery Method™ with her and the change in her grip strength was immediate. Her hands through muscle testing were visually stronger. She was very surprised and she felt holding her scissors was easier and the pain was gone. She felt more relaxed and didn’t feel like she was gripping to hold on to her tools.
The job of a Stylist/Artist involves standing long hours, shoulders become elevated when fatigued, grasping scissors, combing hair, foiling, rolling, washing, massage, and more. Depending on how many clients you have in a day, the muscles of your upper body, arms, hands and fingers are working nonstop.
The pre-curser to carpal tunnel is tendonitis ~ inflammation of the tendons. This is the pattern your body takes when it gets fatigued: As your muscles become more and more fatigued, eventually they give out and painful spasms called trigger points emerge. As this evolves, the tendons begin to become strained. As tendons are attached to muscles and to bones, tension on the bone pulls it slightly out of alignment and nerve involvement occurs. As this keeps up, it becomes worse and the symptoms then begin to manifest themselves. It then becomes harder and harder to hold the tools of your trade with ease.
Surgery for Carpal Tunnel only treats the symptoms NOT the CAUSE!
The average failure rate, which is very conservative, is 57% after following the patient from 1-day to 6-years. At least one of the following symptoms re-occurred during this time: pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. After 6-years, the onset of at least one of these symptoms can reach higher than 90%. Most of these individuals will have surgery more than once, and patients have been known to have as many as five to eight surgeries on just one hand!
Resource: Balance Systems, Inc
Other names for Hand problems due to hobbies or occupation are texting thumb, gameboy wrist, cell phone elbow, guerilla arm ~ involves the shoulder, scissor pinch, space invaders wrist, mothers thumb, and so many more. What are yours for your profession?
The Transverse Carpal ligament is cut and then grows back together with more scar tissue and limitation. As more and more surgeries are preformed it gets harder and harder to bring the thumb and little finger together to form your grip.
Statistics on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/MSD’s are:
As we travel the 21st century, carpal tunnel syndrome surgeries are increasing daily.
The State of California has projected costs for 2013 on MSD’s
· 40% of workers’ compensation costs are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s)
· Average Carpal Tunnel / Repetitive Motion Injury Cost: $43,000. Average back injury: $57,000
· Children and Women are most at risk in today’s technological movement for carpal tunnel syndrome and related injuries.
• According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive strain injuries are the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of American
• According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported, were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers upper body (the wrist, elbow or shoulder ). One common example of such an injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.
• United States, employers spend more than $7.4 billion in workers compensation costs, and untold billions on medical treatment, litigation costs, hidden costs and lost productivity. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
• Carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. Almost half of the carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of work loss.- National Center for Health Statistics.
Stats taken from: http://www.repetitive-strain.com/national.html
What You can do to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Begin a daily SELF-CARE PROGRAM for your body.
2. STRETCH throughout your day and between clients. Only takes a few minutes to relieve stress and strain.
3. EXERCISE daily to build a stronger body. Walk 20 minutes a day enhances immune system and cardiovascular health.
3. Get a MASSAGE once a week. Heal those muscles! Massage will eliminate the pain and revive them.
4. Get an ALIGNMENT CHECK (Chiropractor or Osteopath, Cranial Sacral) to maintain the skeletal and nervous systems.
5. Drink plenty of good spring WATER a day. Muscles need water, so stay hydrated!
6. EAT HEALTHY. An acidic body feels more pain. Eat green!
7. Maintain a HEALTHY BODY and it will always LOVE you and work for you.
8. LAUGH, BE HAPPY, have JOY in your HEART and LOVE what you do. Which is sheer PASSION!
For more info on Kate’s, programs and books, go to www.bodymaintenance101.com Or email Kate with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to Kate live on the Hair Artist Association Radio Show. Link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hairartistassociation/2013/02/28/end-your-carpal-tunnel-pain-without-surgery