Most people complete their daily activities with abandon. For those with hand, wrist, and elbow conditions, normal activities – such as writing on a piece of paper, or typing on an iPhone – can become painful ordeals. According to a study completed by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, hand and wrist injuries account for $740 million in annual health-related costs. These types of injuries are also considered among the most expensive to treat and rehabilitate.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers upper body (the wrist, elbow or shoulder). During the Industrial Age, most injuries were associated with manual labor such as farming and work in smoke stack factories. Thus, workers in the old days often endured back pain, respiratory problems, and pain in the joints.
The evolving nature of injuries in the contemporary workplace reflects the modern activities of today’s jobs. Employees confined to office cubicles and keyboard tapping complain when their work spaces are not optimized ergonomically. Pain at the fingertips, wrist injury, and emotional distress are often reported to physicians.
Take for instance carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression disorder that affects one percent of the general population and five percent of the working population. Individuals who are afflicted with the syndrome typically undergo repetitive use of their hands and wrists such as in the use of laptops and keyboards for several consecutive hours.
Treatment and rehabilitation typically takes place at an orthopedic center. Innovations in this field are enabling physicians to offer minimally invasive procedures and microsurgery techniques in specialized facilities such as the Hand and Wrist Institute.
Hand, wrist, and elbow areas of the human body are intricate and composed of several ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones which all work in conjunction to provide strength and flexibility. Thus, injuries in these areas negatively impact an individual’s personal life such as doing normal household chores.
Surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is the most frequent surgery in the hand and wrist section. It is estimated that there are nearly half a million carpal tunnel releases annually in the United States, which accounts for $1 billion in direct costs. However, prevention – such as using ergonomic equipment in one’s job – and early treatment are seen as ways to avoid the painful execution of simple tasks.