This article appeared in Insurance Journal on 12-15-2005:
A new report from Harvard Medical School refutes the common assumption that computer use causes carpal tunnel syndrome.
Instead, says this report edited by Harvard-based hand experts, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. This compression may occur because of heredity, body weight, fracture, or even pregnancy, but not computer use.
This 40-page report, “Hands: Strategies for strong, pain-free hands”, also explains the many causes of hand pain, and describes the exercises, therapies, and medications used to treat them.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that affects between 2 percent and 3 percent of the population, occurs when one of the three major nerves that travel from the spinal cord down to the hand becomes “pinched”. It affects nearly twice as many women as men. A procedure to ease this nerve disorder is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States, with more than 20,000 performed each year.
Recent research has found that heavy computer use-up to seven hours a day-does not increase risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. However, improper computer use and other workplace conditions can contribute to a type of disorder known as repetitive stress injury.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is in fact not a repetitive stress injury, though it is often incorrectly described as one, says the Harvard report.