Man using a mobile smartphone

Increased use of mobiles and other technology can lead to an increased risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There is no doubting that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is certainly a painful and debilitating condition. It can occur in one or both hands and arises from compression of the median nerve as it passes into the hand due to swelling around the carpal tunnel and can cause tingling, numbness, weakness and pain in the hands and fingers.

At Simcox Oliver Solicitors we deal with many Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) compensation claims every year and fortunately our extensive experience and knowledge, gained from helping many clients from numerous industrial and commercial backgrounds, affords us the great satisfaction of securing compensation payments for those who have developed CTS at work, through absolutely no fault of their own.

Having seen this condition close up and the impact it has on peoples’ lives makes us realise just how much pain and suffering is caused by CTS, therefore we were saddened to read a recent study published in the journal Muscle and Nerve has shown that we are on the cusp of a CTS epidemic if people don’t cut back on their use of electronic gadgets.

During the study researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University looked at students who used tablets, mobile phones, laptops, computers and video game consoles for five hours or more a day, comparing them with less frequent users.

They discovered that almost 92% of the first group, who used their electronic gadgets for just five hours a day, had suffered musculoskeletal pain in the previous 12 months, compared to just a 25% of the second group of less frequent users.

Significantly, none of those who spent less than five hours on their devices suffered wrist or hand pain, but 45.5% of more frequent users did. Plus, ultrasound scans showed the more frequent users also had internal damage with significantly flattened and enlarged median nerves and therefore presented a much higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

The problem lies in the constant tapping, swiping and scrolling needed to use modern smart phones and tablets, as these repetitive movements compress the nerve which runs through the hand leading to burning feelings, tingling and potential permanent nerve damage.

Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research at Arthritis Research UK, said it was a small study but added: “Previously we only saw this type of repetitive strain injury in people using a mouse and keyboard at work.

Now we have these new repetitive movements, swiping and tapping, in our leisure time, as people are barely ever without their smart phones and tablets.

This is a real new challenge for the 21st century and I would encourage anyone suffering symptoms of burning and tingling to contact their GP promptly.”

Co-author of the study Peter White, from Hong Kong Polytechnic University commenting on the findings said: “Vigilance in educating and monitoring young people using electronic devices is important, especially children and adolescents as they are less capable of self-regulating.”

Significantly, the authors’ previous work found 54 per cent of 500 students who intensively used electronic devices had suffered musculoskeletal symptoms.

The co-authors of the study also concluded that people should take regular rest and exercise breaks to reduce their risk.

One thing is for sure, it’s certainly a sobering thought as we could be looking at a generation of sufferers with a huge potential impact on the NHS.

If you think you are suffering from work related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and would like to discuss the potential of making a claim please call us today on 0161 804 8004. Alternatively, read our dedicated Carpal Tunnel Syndrome page.