Prevalence and work-relatedness of self-reported carpal tunnel syndrome among U.S. workers: analysis of the Occupational Health Supplement data of 1988 National Health Interview Survey

Am J Ind Med. 1995 Apr;27(4):451-70. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700270402.


To estimate the prevalence and work-relatedness of self-reported carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) among U.S. workers, data from the Occupational Health Supplement of 1988 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) were analyzed. Among 127 million "recent" workers" who worked during the 12 months prior to the survey, 1.47% (95% CI: 1.30; 1.65), or 1.87 million self-reported CTS, and 0.53% (95% CI: 0.42; 0.65), or 675,000, stated that their prolonged hand discomfort was called CTS by a medical person. Occupations with the highest prevalence of self-reported CTS were mail service, health care, construction, and assembly and fabrication. Industries with the highest prevalence were food products, repair services, transportation, and construction. The risk factor most strongly associated with medically called CTS was exposure to repetitive bending/twisting of the hands/wrists at work (OR = 5.2), followed by race (OR = 4.2; whites higher than nonwhites), gender (OR = 2.2; females higher than males), use of vibrating hand tools (OR = 1.8), and age (OR = 1.03; risk increasing per year). This result is consistent with previous reports in that repeated bending/twisting of the hands and wrists during manual work is etiologically related to occupational carpal tunnel syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / ethnology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / etiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / ethnology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupations
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology