A short-term, three-year epidemiological study of median nerve sensitivity in practicing dental hygienists

J Dent Hyg. 1993 Jul-Aug;67(5):268-72.


Purpose: Hand-intensive, repetitive motion procedures such as those performed by dental hygienists can lead to median nerve dysfunction which, left untreated, can degenerate into clinical carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Vibrometry has been used as a method for early detection of sensory nerve impairment.

Methods: A cohort of 16 university-educated dental hygienists was evaluated by means of programmed frequency stimuli for median nerve dysfunction at graduation and at one, two, and three years postgraduation.

Results: The results indicate that median nerve dysfunction was not detected in this cohort. However, further analysis suggests that a significant loss of median nerve sensitivity, or permanent "threshold shift," has occurred in the three years since graduation.

Conclusion: Whether this is a harbinger of future events is unknown at this time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / etiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Median Nerve / injuries
  • Median Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Vibration