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Dr. Mabie's Advice on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

July 10, 2011 | 8:54 PM

Raise your hand if you have ever had symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). As a salon professional, chances are you could have a run-in with this painful condition.

We asked Kevin N. Mabie, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and president of Coastal Orthopedic Institute in Fall River, Massachusetts, how to recognize, treat and reduce the effects of this occupational disorder.

 Dr. Mabie's Advice on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
MODERN asked Kevin N. Mabie, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and president of Coastal Orthopedic Institute in Fall River, Massachusetts, how to recognize, treat and reduce the effects of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

MODERN SALON
: What exactly is CTS and how can it be prevented?

KEVIN MABIE: CTS is caused by dysfunction of the median nerve that passes into the hand from the forearm on the palm side of the wrist. The result is burning or tingling in the thumb, index and middle finger.  Over time, the hand and especially the thumb, can become weak and numb.

MS: What motions do your hairdresser patients say most aggravate their symptoms?
KM: Nearly every hairdresser reports holding the arms and hands above the shoulder when combing, brushing or blow drying increases discomfort.

MS:  What can salon professionals do to reduce the physical wear and tear?
KM: Minimizing the weight of a tool, like a dryer can go a long way to relieving the effects of CTS. Shears should be in good working order so that the repetitive opening and closing of the blades does not require additional force. Look critically at your work environment, try to minimize above-shoulder motion and make sure that each tool is lightweight and well maintained.

Check out these ergonomic-friendly products:
• The Freestylist suspends hairdryers from the ceiling reducing weight, strain and fatigue. Visit freestylist.com.
• The crane handle and natural position of Sam Villa’s shears reduce strain. Visit samvilla.com/products.
• Monroe Brush and Olivia Garden both design brushes to reduce stylist fatigue. Visit monroebrush.com or oliviagarden.com.
• For clippers or trimmers that offer stylist comfort visit wahlpro.com, andis.com or osterstyle.com.

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