Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I worked for 29 years in an office using old-fashioned typewriters, electric typewriters, and finally computers. I never had an ounce of trouble. Now that I'm retired, I'm starting to get carpal tunnel syndrome. Is there a delayed effect with this problem?

Answer:

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has been around for a long time. The first cases were reported in the mid-1800s. Today it has become a significant health problem.

Repetitive motion such as typing has been named one of the most common causes of CTS. But there are many other possible causes to consider. For example, trauma resulting in swelling, bleeding, or scar tissue can cause CTS.

Anything that changes the structure of the wrist can bring on CTS. Arthritis, pregnancy, tumors, and ganglion cysts fall into this category. Even weight gain or obesity can be a risk factor for this condition.

And systemic problems such as thyroid disease, lupus, gout, or leukemia have been linked with CTS. It appears that increasing age can also contribute to CTS. Chronic alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, and some medications are also potential causes of CTS.

It's not likely that CTS occurs as a delayed response to your work. A medical examination is needed to find out for sure what's causing your symptoms. Given the wide range of possibilities and the fact that it could be something more serious, a visit to your doctor may be in order.

A physical exam of your head, neck, and arms will be done. Special tests for CTS can help make the diagnosis. Sometimes more specific studies using X-rays, ultrasound, or MRIs may be needed. Blood tests don't pinpoint CTS but can show other problems such as low thyroid or diabetes. C. Sabin Cranford, MD, et al. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. September 2007. Vol. 15. No. 9. Pp. 537-548.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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