When you work what many people in New York might perceive to be the proverbial “desk job,” you may assume that workplace injuries would be relatively easy to avoid (after all, what risk is there in spending hour after hour typing away on a computer?).

Yet why are you starting to feel a numbness in your fingers and wrists? Better yet, what might explain why you have recently had issues grasping and holding items? These are symptoms of a common condition that may be due to the general wear-and-tear you experience with your career.

Defining “carpal tunnel syndrome” 

Every year doctors diagnose over 3 million Americans are with carpal tunnel syndrome. Per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the carpal tunnel is an actual small tunnel (roughly one inch wide) that runs along your wrist. It’s primary purpose is to protect the median nerve (which controls the muscles in your wrists and fingers and provides feeling to them). Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tissues that make up the roof of the tunnel swell and put pressure on the nerve, causing not only the aforementioned symptoms but also radiating pain up your arm and into your shoulder as well as impeding your ability to perform fine movements with your hand.

The causes of carpal tunnel syndrome

Genetics, underlying conditions and even pregnancy are all potential causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, yet also among the most common causes are persistent wrist movement and performing repetitive motions with your hands (such as the movements associated with working on a computer). Sometimes splinting and a focus on better ergonomics can help relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, yet you may ultimately need surgical intervention to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Either of these treatment options can be costly in both the impact they have on your health and your career.