Thousands of workers are getting ready to go back to work as Quebec’s annual construction holiday comes to an end. As carpenters, joiners, heavy machine operators, bricklayers, tile layers, and painters are getting ready to pick their tools up once again, it’s worth reminding them about good practices to avoid hurting their hands at work and prevent the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

First, let’s remember that carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve inside the carpel tunnel in your wrist is compressed. Symptoms can appear for several reasons, including repeated flexing and gripping, which are particularly common in construction work since workers are often using tools that vibrate and that need to be held up or kept in place for long periods of time.

 

SYMPTOMS

Carpal tunnel syndrome has many symptoms. Construction workers should pay special attention to the warning signs if they don’t want to put their health at risk. The aftereffects may be irreversible if the condition is not diagnosed and treated in time. So, stay alert: a tinging or burning sensation, lack of feeling, weakness in the wrist, numbness at night, wrist, palm, hand, or even forearm pain, and difficulty holding objects are just a few of the problems associated with carpal tunnel.

 

PREVENTION

There are many preventative measures that can be taken to keep from developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are a few simple tips especially for construction workers:

 

  • Make sure that you move in a way that follows the natural axis of the wrist. Take time to reposition the tools you are using if your wrists are in flexion.
  • If your workspace or tools are inadequate, talk to your immediate supervisor about them. Review with them how you work and make your workspace and tools more ergonomic. Your health depends on it.
  • Try to minimize your risk factors outside of work and give your wrists a rest. Certain hobbies like golf, gardening, knitting, video games, and riding motorcycles are taxing on the wrists, so do them in moderation.
  • Take the time to warm up your wrist joints, stretch regularly during repetitive tasks, and take breaks often.

 

TREATMENT

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, a doctor might suggest wearing a splint or brace at night or prescribe you an anti-inflammatory. In cases where these treatments prove ineffective, your doctor may recommend surgery. In any event, make sure you consult a hand specialist as soon as symptoms appear to keep the condition from getting worse.

 

SOURCES

https://oppq.qc.ca/articles_blogue/le-syndrome-du-tunnel-carpien/ (in French)

http://www.drbrutus.com/fr/diagnostics/syndrome-du-tunnel-carpien/ (in French)

https://services.tat.gouv.qc.ca/SJ/mementofeb8.nsf/852562dd006ae370852562760073c65a/f9dd874cb6c326cf8525795e0073f79e?OpenDocument (in French)

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/carpal.html (in English)

http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Maux/Problemes/Fiche.aspx?doc=troubles-musculosquelettiques-main-poignet-pm-symptomes-du-syndrome-du-canal-carpien (in French)