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Medical Glossary - C

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
    This is caused by pressure on the median nerve as it passes from the forearm into the hand within the firm walled carpal tunnel. The pressure produces a tingling, numbness or discomfort in the radial fingers (outer three and a half digits) and there is a feeling of clumsiness in carrying out fine movements such as those involved in sewing. The symptoms and signs vary with the degree and duration of the compression of the median nerve. It is thought that repeated flexion and extension at the wrist - as is common in various work related activities - can cause fluid to accumulate and put pressure on the median nerve causing the typical carpal tunnel syndrome. There are however, other causes of neurological disturbances in the hand including those arising in the neck, from interference with the brachial plexus, and lesions of the median nerve elsewhere in its anatomical course. Such diseases as muscular dystrophy and syringomyelia may also cause similar neurological disturbance.

  • cervical spondylosis
    This is osteoarthritis of the cervical spine. Degenerative changes in the cervical spine are very common and although they may be due to injury - such as whiplash - they are most commonly due to the aging process. The condition is often symptomless, but it may be a cause of aching pain in the neck or trapezium muscles. Less often there is pressure on the nerve roots leading to radiating pain along the course of the affected nerve or nerves and to 'tingling' or ‘pins or needles' in the hand.

  • cmc joint
    Carpometacarpal joint.

  • cognitive therapy
    A type of psychological therapy practised in some pain clinics which can allow patients to come to terms with, and accept, chronic pain.

  • compensation
    An award made by a court in compensation for, amongst other things, personal injury sustained as a result of occupational activities.

  • compensation neurosis
    This is also known as 'accident neurosis' or 'litigation neurosis' terms which reflect the view that patients adapt or exaggerate their symptoms, and physical signs if they are present, in an effort to increase the possibility of compensation - or to gain in some other manner.

  • constitutional
    This is a term used when a medical condition is thought not to be due to an occupational factor but due to some physical or physiological characteristic specific to the person concerned which makes them more vulnerable than normal to a precipitating factor. This may indeed be true, as a group of workers exposed to the same adverse working conditions may respond in quite different ways, reflecting the inherent variability of mankind. Alternatively, a constitutional factor may bring about a more exacerbated response to an occupational situation. On the other hand the phrase 'constitutional' may be used when the medical practitioner is inexperienced or prejudiced.

  • constructive dismissal
    A case for constructive dismissal could be made if an employer failed to respond to complaints about, for example, unsatisfactory working conditions thus causing a work related upper limb disorder which led to the employee having to give up work.

  • conversion disorder
    This is one of the vague psychological terms used, and often in a very unspecific way, to describe the psychological responses to WRULDS.

  • conversion hysteria
    A diagnosis which was put forward in Australia to explain the symptoms of what later became known as 'RSI'. It was used in the UK in 1998 in the Pickford v. ICI Action but it was proved at trial that this medical phenomenon only arises where the individual has knowledge of the risks of RSI.

  • craft palsy or craft cramps
    These are the old names of some of the conditions which today would be called work related upper limb disorders or overuse syndromes.

  • cramp of the hand
    A prescribed industrial disease (A4). See Clinical Syndromes.

  • crepitus
    When palpating over a tendon a grating feeling and tenderness is indicative of inflammation within the synovial sheath, i.e. tenosynovitis.