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Can Smoking Be Related to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

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We know that smoking can cause a myriad of illnesses, such as lung diseases, heart disease, and circulatory problems. Did you know that smoking can increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome? If you have ever had carpal tunnel syndrome, you k

We know that smoking can cause a myriad of illnesses, such as lung diseases, heart disease, and circulatory problems. Did you know that smoking can increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome? If you have ever had carpal tunnel syndrome, you know how painful it is. The pain and tingling sensations are caused from compression of the Median nerve in the wrist. The Median nerve serves the thumb and the first 3 digits. This nerve controls movement and sensation in these areas. Thus, when you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome you are likely to feel pain and tingling in your thumb and first 3 fingers.

Oftentimes carpal tunnel syndrome is caused from swelling in the tissues where the Median nerve runs through. This condition can also be caused by repetitive stress injury to the wrist. I got carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist when I was working as a nurse. I worked in a nursing home environment, which was part of a hospital. Working in the nursing home was a lot more difficult than working in the hospital. In the hospital the drugs were all unit dose, but in the nursing home the drugs were bottled with child-guard caps. The repetitive pressing down and twisting on the bottles to open them took a painful toll on my hand and wrist. I was out of work for a month. When I did return to work it was nearly impossible for me to function due to the pain and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome. The nursing home went to unit dose a few months after I went on Workers Comp. When I came back to work, I transferred to work in the hospital, and when the nursing home went to unit dose, I transferred back there to work.

Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly occurs in people who work with their hands, especially if must put stress or pressure on the Median nerve. You may be susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome if you are pregnant, or if you have diabetes, or you are a smoker, or obese, or if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Smoking and circulation

When I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, I was a smoker. I believe that my smoking was the primary cause of me developing this disorder in the first place. Smoking slows down circulation, which decreases blood flow to the area of the Median nerve. I used to suffer with it a lot when I worked as a nurse. I’ve quit smoking several years ago, and I’ve noticed that I no longer have any of the numbness that I used to experience. My right hand, especially, would ache, and then go numb from my thumb and about half of my hand. Now that I don’t smoke, I can be at the computer for hours and not experience any numbness at all. Thus, I do believe that smoking put me at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Charlene Collins

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