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Workers with carpal tunnel find relief with night-time splinting

ANN ARBOR, Mich. After a long day on the job, tired minds and sore feet look forward to a long night of rejuvenating rest. A new study finds that nocturnal rest can do a world of good for your hands and wrists too, especially if you are one of the millions of American workers who are just beginning to feel the common pain and discomfort linked to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The findings, made by a team of researchers with the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, show that night-time splinting can effectively improve hand and wrist discomfort for active workers with early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The results from the study are published in the January issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

While carpal tunnel syndrome is a common work-related disorder and a major cause of impairment and disability in the workplace, the use of initial medical treatment protocols for the disorder wrist splints, modification of hand activity, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, diuretics and steroid injections have widely varied across the United States and Western Europe, says lead author Robert A. Werner, M.D., MS, professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the U-M Health System.

"Workers with carpal tunnel syndrome have more lost work time than any other work-related injury. Additionally, CTS is frequently misdiagnosed and there's very little scientific research to show which initial treatments are actually the most effective for those with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome," says Werner, the chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and an associate research scientist with the U-M Center for Ergonomics.

The first line of conservative treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, both from doctors and self-prescribed, is typically nocturnal splinting. Splinting, Werner says, reduces stress on the per
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