Purpose: This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and upper extremity (UE) tendinitis among dental hygienists.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study dental hygienists (n = 305) were screened using sensory nerve conduction, a focused physical examination of the UE, and a symptom questionnaire. CTS was diagnosed if the subject had slowing of the median nerve at the wrist and symptoms of numbness, tingling of pain in the median distribution. Localized tendinitis of the UE was diagnosed if the subject had focal symptoms and associated findings on physical examination.
Results: Three percent of the participating dental hygienists were diagnosed with CTS. Thirteen were diagnosed with shoulder tendinitis, while 6% had a tendinitis of the elbow and 7% had tendinitis of the hand or wrist. Twenty-eight percent had a diagnosis of some UE tendinitis or CTS.
Conclusions: The prevalence of hand and finger symptoms in the dominant hand among dental hygienists in this study was high, but the prevalence for CTS was nearly the same as the general population. There was a high rate of UE tendinitis noted within this population.