Monday, November 12, 2007
Typing your way to pain
Tap. Tap. Tap. Typing has never been my strong suit. Trained monkeys type faster than I do. But these days, it's even worse. And it's painful. If I type for more than a few minutes, my elbow and wrist hurt like the dickens. Since writing (and subsequently typing) is the way I make my lunch money, I decided to seek professional help before it got really bad. After a few X-rays and a little poking and twisting, the doctor gave me the bad news. Turns out I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, I am wearing a VERY attractive black brace and I am popping ibuprofen ever few hours. Oh, the hazards of an office job!

Curious, I decided to do some checking on work related injuries. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Labor released new statistics on work injuries that require time off. Overall, the news is good: The number of injuries was down 6 percent in 2006. Among the other interesting findings:

* Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants had the most days away from work -- four times the total for all other occupations.

* Sprains and strains were the top cause of injury.

* Men were more likely to be injured than women.

* And interestingly enough, the overall cases of carpal tunnel syndrome decreased by 21 percent. (Apparently my wrist and elbow didn't get the memo.)

But here's the statistic that really jumped out at me: Assaults and violent acts increased by 10 percent. Against women, they were up 21 percent. Health care and social assistance workers took the brunt of the abuse -- 60 percent of incidents happened to them and were committed by people they were trying to help.

Hearing that puts my little inconvenience in perspective. I am curious: Do you have any interesting work injury stories? Do you think your employer does enough to keep you safe? Any advice?

I will end it here. My arm needs a break.
Violent assaults against health care workers while on duty in the hospital is on the rise, particularly amoung RNs in the Emergency Dept. A scary trend that is indicative of the worsening fabric of our society. These can occur from the patients the workers are trying to help or from the patients' family members. A disturbing trend to say the least. I personally know a man who was viciously attacked by a "patient" who wanted narcotics the doctor refused to prescribe. He was beaten so badly before the police could arrive that he is still brain damaged and in a coma today. I have been threatened by a couple of patients and by one patient's wife, but so far luckily, they have been idle threats.

I no longer take risks and call security early to stand-by for assistance. I used to feel this was being a little paranoid, but now with the violence in society, I think it's just comman sense.

In addition, sexual harrassment and abuse from patients towards female healthcare workers is likewise on the rise, and under-reported.
Hi Jen:

So sorry to learn about your situation. It really stinks and I do feel sorry for you!

Would you please answer a question for me on this blog, "What happened to Dr. Gupta's hand?"

He was on AC360: Planet in Peril wrap up show the other night and just sat there looking dismayed. I then saw his hand. He looked like he was in a lot of pain.

So can you blog about Dr. Gupta? Don't tell me he was cooking breakfast in bed for his wife and got burnt?
Sorry to hear about your carpal-tunnel problem. Best wishes for your speedy recovery. In Hebrew, a Mishabeirach!
I worked in a place that had a rash of repetitive strain injuries, mostly carpal tunnel, and the company was responding reasonably well. When I started having pain in my arms, I was sent to the company-contracted doctor, who hardly glanced at me before diagnosing carpal tunnel. I was given wrist splints and ibuprofen. Only problem was, it wasn't carpal tunnel. The pain was in my elbows, and the wrist splints made it worse. Three doctors and an extremely painful nerve-conduction study later, I was sent to a physical therapist. Inside of five minutes she correctly determined I had inflammation in the tendons of my triceps muscles, a condition sometimes called golfer's elbow. A few treatments with ultrasound and massage followed, and months of terrible pain were over. Sometimes the "little people" know more than the doctors do -- often because they take the time to actually listen to the patient.
I am a caregiver and can vouch for the increase in assaults. For many, pain is part of the reason for their short fuse, others (seniors mostly with limited cognition) simply are unaware of what they're doing.

Recently I quit a job caring for a 5 yo boy who had behavioral issues. The family did not tell me he was violent when I interviewed for the job, only that he could quickly become overwhelmed when put in novel situations. I got head-butted and bitten.

Many employers do not set up the environment safely, or provide the tools (belts for transferring patients, for example) necessary to keep from being injured. One can only speculate on why anyone wouldn't desire investing in safety for their employees.

BTW, I am fighting Labor and Industries in my state because they state my wrist (carpal tunnel and de Quervain)is all better, despite incessant pain whenever over used.

Sorry to hear of your carpal tunnel issues. Those braces do help.
after recovery, you should not just rely on surgery but also attack the source of the problem,

first find a CTS physiotherapist

then get rid of the 19 century designed keyboard and check out
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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