Monthly Archives: March 2013

What’s New in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Research

Breaking news for anyone suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome: From new video technology to acupuncture treatments, non-invasive surgery, and cold laser therapy, medical breakthroughs in the treatment and cure of carpal tunnel syndrome are on the rise. Furthermore, at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), as well as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders (NIAMS), research is currently underway to study the factors that contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome (including brain changes and biochemical stresses) and to explore therapies and alternative treatments to treat the painful orthopedic condition.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Anyway?

So what exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)? The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow passageway of ligament and bones at the base of the hand where the median nerve and tendons are located. When swelling or irritation of the tendons occurs (i.e. from repetitive movements or awkward positioning), the tunnel narrows, compressing the median nerve and giving rise to pain or numbness which begins in the hand and wrist and radiates to the arm.

Typically, CTS manifests in an aching hand, wrist, or forearm and can progress to weakness in the hands, piercing pain through the wrist and up the arm, and tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers. Left untreated, CTS can cause decreased grip strength and the inability to grasp small objects, make a fist, and perform manual tasks. In chronic cases, affected individuals may be unable to differentiate hot and cold via touch and the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away.

 

Who Can Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

While data-entry personnel and office workers are popularly believed to be at the greatest risk for developing CTS, the syndrome is not confined to a single industry and is in fact three times more common among assembly line workers. Other people commonly affected by CTS include those who work in cleaning, sewing, finishing, and meat/poultry/fish packing.

Traditional Treatments

Early treatment of CTS is essential to prevent long-term damage and a chronic condition. The following treatments are known to be effective in alleviating pain and swelling and in reducing pressure on the median nerve:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen, and other pain relievers); research also indicates that vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supplements may ease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chiropractor manipulations
  • Splints to immobilize the wrist and prevent further damage
  • Ice packs to reduce swelling
  • Wristaleve (an adjustable strap worn around the wrist, designed to treat CTS by lifting the roof of the carpal tunnel to relieve the compression of the nerves and tendons)
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises (once symptoms have abated)
  • Reconstructive therapy
  • Surgical treatments, including open release surgery (performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient) and endoscopic carpal tunnel release (ECTR) surgery, allowing for faster functional recovery, reduced postoperative pain, less scar tissue, and a better cosmetic result

New in Carpal Tunnel Research
Yoga and Acupuncture: Alternative therapies such as yoga and acupuncture have been shown to benefit patients suffering from CTS. Yoga reduces pain and improves grip strength, while a 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences determined that acupuncture is effective in relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Similarly, a 2006 research study published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain used MRI technology to measure the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of CTS and discovered a brain pathway via which acupuncture achieves its therapeutic results. The researchers concluded that acupuncture benefits carpal tunnel and chronic pain sufferers “through a coordinated limbic network including the hypothalamus and amygdale.”

Video Technology: In other breakthrough news, researchers at the University of Wisconsin are experimenting with video technology to record and analyze workers’ upper body movements in an effort to discover a cure for carpal tunnel syndrome. The research combines human perception with video technology to observe workers’ hands at work and to calculate how repetitive a given task is and whether it is considered safe or prone to injuries. The use of video technology is considered an improvement upon previous, more invasive movement recording methods which required sensors being attached to workers, causing them to move unnaturally and making the research less accurate. Ultimately, the researchers hope to design a tool that companies all over the world can use to help prevent workplace injuries and specifically to determine the likelihood of a worker getting CTS.

 

Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that help avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.

Orthopedic Chairs: Good for Your Back, Good for Your Business

If you suffer from chronic back pain and have shelled out thousands of dollars on ineffectual treatments, therapies, and equipment, you are not alone. Back pain is the number one ailment amongst working adults today, with the number of children presenting with back problems on the rise. In the majority of cases, the culprits are poor sitting posture, awkward body positioning, lack of good lumbar support, and prolonged sitting in front of a screen or behind a desk.

Orthopedic Chairs: A New Generation of Ergonomic Seating

The good news is that a new generation of ergonomic seating has been born: orthopedic office chairs. Created with the purpose of correcting your posture and keeping your body properly aligned, orthopedic chairs prevent pain to the back, neck and shoulders, keeping your back strong and healthy. State-of-the-art designs reduce stress on the joints and muscles, create balance between your weight and your body’s movement, and maintain pressure at the base of the spine where your back needs it the most. Finally, orthopedic chairs feature a slew of adjustable mechanisms which can be customized to suit the physique of each user.

What is Orthopedics, Anyway?

Orthopedics is the field of medicine which diagnoses and treats conditions, injuries, and disorders of the skeletal system, including your muscles, joints, and ligaments. Some of the common conditions treated by orthopedic doctors are back pain, foot and leg pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sports injuries.

Orthopedic Office Chair Characteristics

So what sets orthopedic chairs for computer work apart from other chairs, making them a cut above the rest? Here are some the common characteristics of orthopedic office equipment:

  • Improved lumbar support
  • Adjustable mechanisms to provide maximum comfort and to accommodate all shapes and sizes (including people with mobility issues and/or disabilities)
  • Pneumatic height feature, i.e. raising and lowering chairs to allow for customized seating
  • Sloping and multi-tilt options, allowing for back-friendly posture changes while sitting
  • Massage and/or rocking movements for huge benefits in back health

Orthopedic Breakthrough Designs

In today’s intense workplace settings, the health of your back depends on a proper chair that 707SSHHR Mesh Office Chair MDprovides you with the support and comfort you need all day long. Recognizing that not every chair is right for every person, breakthrough technology has given rise to innovative orthopedic office chair designs, featuring strong, flexible seating and ergonomic solutions.

Making furniture that fits the worker (and not the other way around), here are some of the products which have evolved.

 

  • Adjustable Chairs: By lowering the angle of the lower body, the spine is kept in natural alignment over the pelvis with the upper body in a natural position
  • Mesh Task Chairs: Breathable, mesh back conforms to natural curvature of the spine, providing essential lumbar support and keeping users cool and comforted even on hot summer days
  • ‘Smart’ Swing Chairs: These chairs automatically move as you move, providing full lumbar support and helping you maintain good posture throughout the day; features a seat and backrest which swing from a pivot point, matching the body’s center of gravity and rotating in concert with each user; facilitate small, hardly perceptible swinging motions to full incline position changes with immense health benefits to the back and body
  • Big/Tall Orthopedic Chairs: Suitable for heights of up to 6 feet, 2 inches and weight-rated for up to 550lbs
  • Massage Chairs: Intelligent massage robot provides full-body stretching massage function, including upper body (shoulder, neck, back and lumbar) and lower body (buttocks, thighs, calves and feet); comes complete with LCD display, remote control, and MP3 player
  • Multi-Tilt Task Chair: Features a high back, multi-position tilt locking mechanism, tilt tension adjustment, pneumatic seat height and ratchet back adjustment, seat slider, and sleek modern design

Orthopedic Office Chairs: Good for Your Back, Good for Your Business

Not only do modern orthopedic office chairs significantly enhance workers’ comfort, health, and safety, but research confirms that orthopedic office equipment boosts employee moral, performance, and productivity. In fact, in order to comply with workplace safety regulations, more and more business owners are consulting with ergonomic specialists to assess their workplace settings and the needs of their employees and to get recommendations for orthopedic furniture which will maximize their employees’ ability to safely and efficiently do their jobs.

Finally, you can invest in your back and in your health by finding out about desk exercises recommended by orthopedists and by taking short “ergo” breaks throughout the day.

 

Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that help avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.