Objectives To evaluate relations between occupational mechanical exposures and (1) carpal tunnel syndrome verified by ENG (ENG+CTS) and (2) CTS-like symptoms with normal ENG (ENG-CTS).
Method We plan a triple-case referent study of 1000 ENG+CTS and 1000 ENG-CTS cases identified at a university department of clinical neurophysiology. For each case, two sex, age, and primary care centre matched controls will be sampled (risk set sampling). Both retrospectively and prospectively identified cases will be included with standardised clinical examination of the last-mentioned group. Conditional logistic regression analyses will be performed comparing the two case control sets, while unconditional logistic regression will be applied comparing ENG+CTS cases to ENG-CTS controls. Questionnaire information will be collected on job history, lifestyle, symptoms, and disability. Job titles will be linked to a job exposure matrix (JEM) based on measurements of hand-wrist movements (goniometer measurements) and expert ratings.
Results The main hypothesis is that exposure-response relations will be found for ENG+CTS, but not for ENG-CTS with respect to forceful work and awkward wrist postures, while repetitive work will show exposure-response relations in both groups. The Danish Working Environment Research Fund has granted financial support for a 3-year PhD project starting January 2014.
Conclusions The study will take advantage of specific and well documented case diagnoses and independent exposure assessment. The results are expected to produce new insights into exposure-response relations between occupational mechanical exposures and risk of CTS.
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