Students beware of the monster that can come with your electronic device. It can rear its ugly head even if it didn’t come with a warning sign. Hand operated electronics may possibly be linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.
There are many things that can cause CTS, but the cause is generally repetitive motion, said Helen Caprioglio, Associate Professor of Biology and interim chair of the science department at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
CTS can happen when major nerves compress in the finger or hand. It causes pain, tingling and numbness which can sometimes shoot through your hand and even up your arm, according to ehealthMD.com.
Caprioglio said her mother had CTS after years of sewing, but forceful pressure on the hand such as using jackhammers and power tools also cause CTS.
Although tests tying typing to CTS are inconclusive, typing is commonly linked to compression of the median nerve in the hand causing CTS, Caprioglio said. She said that typing gently is a good measure to take to avoid CTS.
There are many activities students do that require repetitive gripping or motion of the hands and wrists. Some activities include working at computers and using cell phones and.
Markus Turner, a CSU-Pueblo student, said he uses his cell phone from the moment he gets up in the morning until the time he goes to sleep. He uses his phone to stay in touch with friends and family in Arizona.
“My hand does hurt if I text all day,” said Erica Averhoff, an accounting student at CSU-Pueblo. She uses her phone to stay in touch with her boyfriend and text message other students during class. She said she uses her phone all day.
Robert Bamber, a student at CSU-Pueblo, and his wife, Lisa, an instructor at CSU-Pueblo, use their cell phones as their main lines. Lisa doubled their phone plans’ allowable limit last month to a total of 500 text messages.
Troy Ard, a communications student who also works in politics said he sends and receives 500-600 text messages a day. On Election Day, he had about 1200 messages. He said that his joints ache sometimes from texting to much. Ard said they were especially sore by election night.
Scott Umbert, a CSU-Pueblo student said, he sends and receives 400-500 messages a day. Most of the messages are to and from girls. Texting isn’t the only reason he might later suffer from CTS. Umbret said he also works on the computer between two and four hours a day.
“I hate it, but I love it,” Brittney Pendery said about her cell phone. “I am on it almost all day.”
“I think sometimes it (her cell phone) causes a little drama,” said Brandy Ohlschwager, but she sends hundreds of messages from her phone a day because she likes to stay in touch with her friends and family in PA.
Many routine tasks become hard to accomplish when CTS is a factor. Caprioglio said CTS can cause numbness in the hands as well as problems opening jars and even cause problems sleeping.
“Difficulty performing routine tasks with the hands such as holding a cup, vacuuming, washing up, or even driving; some people have difficulty holding a newspaper or a telephone,” the Website stated.
Caprioglio said women are three times more likely to get CTS than men.
Women have higher water retention rates than men. Water retention causes pressure on the already strained nerves and muscles and can further the problem. Some women only have problems with CTS during pregnancy, Caprioglio said.
Caprioglio said problems with diabetes, arthritis or thyroid and injuries to the wrist increase vulnerability. If CTS runs in a person’s family, they are also more likely to get it.
CTS may be linked to hormones said Caprioglio. Middle-aged men and women who are post-menopausal are more likely to get CTS.
“Approximately 260,000 carpal tunnel surgeries are performed each year in the U.S., and 47 percent of these are considered to be work-related,” according to the web site. If CTS is not immediately addressed permanent damage is likely.
“Take precautions because CTS is painful, inconvenient and impossible to fix,” said Mandy Pacheco, a working cosmetologist in Pueblo West that has CTS.
If CTS is a concern a diagnosis can be made by a medical professional. Tests that can be performed are nerve conduction tests, electromyography, X-rays and MRI’s, according to the Website.
If CTS is diagnosed, there are treatments available to help alleviate the pain. The Website said treatments include wearing a wrist splint, physical therapy and taking anti-inflammatory medications, diuretics and steroids.