Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms and carpal tunnel syndrome among dental hygienists

Am J Ind Med. 2002 Sep;42(3):248-57. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10110.


Background: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are common problems in general industry as well as dental hygiene. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of CTS and other MSDs among dental hygienists. No previous studies involving dental hygienists have combined nerve conduction studies (NCS) and symptoms in their CTS case definitions.

Methods: Dental hygienists (N = 95) completed a symptom and job factors survey, hand symptom diagram, and underwent NCS across the wrist.

Results: At least one MSD was reported by 93%. Prevalence of CTS was 8.4% utilizing a case definition of symptoms and NCS, but 42% if defined by symptoms alone. Age, BMI, and the number of patients treated per day were significant factors associated with CTS.

Conclusions: Dental hygienists are exposed to occupational factors that increase the risk of CTS. A case definition that does not include NCS overestimates CTS prevalence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dental Hygienists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Health
  • Odds Ratio
  • Probability
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires