Carpal tunnel syndrome and manual work: a longitudinal study

J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Nov;49(11):1189-96. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181594873.


Objective: To assess risks associated with work-related biomechanical overloads in onset/course of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Methods: Work-groups with job tasks spanning different biomechanical exposures were evaluated at baseline in terms of American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists hand-activity/peak force action limit and threshold limit values (TLV). Exposures of interest were "unacceptable" (hand-activity above TLV) and "borderline" (between action limit and TLV) overloads. Clinical/individual data were collected at baseline and 12 months.

Results: One-year incidence of "classic/possible" carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms as defined by consensus criteria was 7.3% (153 of 2092). "Unacceptable" overload was associated with a 3-fold increased risk of onset with respect to "acceptable" load. At ordered logistic regression analysis of symptom-status variations, increased risks were recorded for "unacceptable" and "borderline" overloads.

Conclusions: Effectiveness of encouraging workplace adherence to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommendations deserves investigation as a possible key to wide-scale prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work*