Some carpal tunnel syndrome problems may unfortunately be an act of
convenience, particularly in the workplace. There may be other
causes having nothing to do with the workplace. There may be a
terrible conspiracy at work. There may be therapies closer to you
than you think. First let=92s look at some statistics.
Repetitive strain injuries are diagnosed as conditions such as
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis and tennis elbow. Statistics U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Year # of RSI cases % of all illnesses
1978 20,200 14%
1979 21,900 15%
1980 23,200 18%
1981 23,000 18%
1982 22,600 21%
1983 26,700 25%
1984 37,700 28%
1985 37,000 30%
1986 45,500 33%
1987 72,900 38%
1988 115,300 48%
1989 146,900 52%
1990 185,400 56%
(Source: Pinsky, Mark A., The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Book, Warner
Books, 1993, pg. 144
Do the above statistics suggest a surging epidemic? The above Bureau
of Labor statistic is fourteen years old! Now we are reading about
CTS from holding cellphones that are a fraction of the weight of the
old style phone, the one with a cord attached.
Is it all happening in the workplace? Let=92s look at some recent
Studies Cast Doubt on Causes of Carpal Tunnel Risk & Insurance,
August, 2001 by Michael Capozzi
New research brings good news to employers concerned with costly
workers' compensation claims, lost productivity, and potential
ergonomic regulations as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS),
one of the most common repetitive stress injuries. The research
attacks the causes and risk factors of CTS and pinpoints what types
of jobs are likely to cause the ailment.
The most controversial study comes out of Australia, where
occupational therapist Sonja Falkiner's findings were presented by
hand surgeon Stuart Myles at the Royal Australasian College of
Surgeons conference in Canberra, Australia. Both Falkiner and Myles
work at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is more likely to be caused by being
overweight or by an underlying disease than by a person's job
duties, according to Myles. Falkiner's study found that the most
likely CTS patient is a woman of menopausal age who is obese,
diabetic, and a smoker.
Thousands of workers' compensation claims are being paid
unnecessarily, says Myles, giving an example of a 51-year-old
administrative assistant who was overweight, had diabetes, arthritis
in the base of her thumb, and a family history of CTS.
"This woman had all the factors for the development of carpal tunnel
syndrome, and yet she had an accepted workers' compensation claim,"
Myles says. "In such cases, it was just as likely to be pruning the
garden, cleaning the house, or playing a sport that caused the
"It is offensive and ridiculous that unfit people are demanding
government payouts for injuries that are more than likely caused by
their general lifestyle, not work," says Myles. "It's only those
people who work in cold environments, and those who work in highly
forceful and repetitive jobs, such butchers and meat packers, that
there may be said to be a cause (relating to work)," he adds.
Another study, published in the June 12 issue of Neurology by J.
Clarke Stevens and other researchers at the Mayo Clinic in
Scottsdale, Ariz., seems to support this claim, at least partially.
The researchers studied 257 Mayo Clinic workers and found that only
10 percent had CTS symptoms. An electromyogram, a device that
measures the ability of the nerve to conduct electrical impulses,
later found that only 3.5 percent of the workers actually suffered
from CTS. Clearly, the researchers were surprised by their findings.
"We had expected to find a much higher incidence of carpal tunnel
syndrome in the heavy computer users in our study because it is a
commonly held belief that computer use causes carpal tunnel
syndrome," says Stevens.
These two studies, however, are hardly the last word on the subject,
as numerous other studies and experts hold the opinion that
repetitive stress from computer use and other job functions does in
fact cause CTS.
For instance, a look at the Mayo Clinic Web site reveals this
statement, under the risk factors of CTS subheading: "Although it's
not clear which activities can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, if your
work or hobbies are hand-intensive, involving a combination of
awkward, repetitive wrist or finger motion, forceful pinching or
gripping and working with vibrating tools, you may be at higher risk
for the condition."
Despite the lack of clear answers, one thing is for certain: the
condition is costing U.S. businesses plenty, both in terms of
workers' compensation costs and lost productivity. According to the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27,900 cases of carpal tunnel
syndrome were reported in 1999 (the most recent year for which data
is available), with 27 days being the median average for days away
from work, the highest among all disabling injuries and illnesses.
With this in mind, employers surely will hold their breath, waiting
for the next study to bring more clarity to the subject.
Perhaps the cause of the surging statistics is something sinister:
Clip - We know that complaints of arthritic symptoms are more common
than they were sixty years ago. Quite a number of troublesome health
conditions seem to be more prevalent today. In earlier times,
secretaries typed all day on manual typewriters without developing
carpal-tunnel syndrome. All of a sudden, body parts we used to take
for granted seem to be wearing out before their time.
Health problems caused by fluoride:
Osteoporosis and Arthritis: Scientists at EPA in Washington have
declared that there is every reason to believe that the increasing
numbers of people with carpal-tunnel syndrome and arthritis-like
pains are due to the mass fluoridation of drinking water. On July 9,
1998 the Manchester Guardian reported news of fluoride poisoned
water in Central India, from untested wells drilled in the 1980s,
causing severe arthritic damage to tens of millions of people -- a
national disaster. Fluoride is the most bone seeking element known
to mankind. The US Public Health Service has stated that fluoride
makes the bones more brittle and dental enamel more porous.
On the lighter side, type -electronic gem therapy- in closed quotes
into Google and get 1850 astounding pages!
For those in the jewelry trade with CTS problems, the answer may
already be sitting in your hand=85.