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Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome in a general population.
  1. D L Nordstrom,
  2. R A Vierkant,
  3. F DeStefano,
  4. P M Layde
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Marshfield Medical Research and Education Foundation, WI, USA.


    OBJECTIVE: To determine the individual, physical, and psychosocial risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome in a general population. METHODS: Population based case-control study in Marshfield epidemiological study area in Wisconsin, USA. Cases were men and women aged 18-69 with newly diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome (n = 206 (83.1%) of 248 eligible). Controls were a random sample of residents of the study area who had no history of diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome (n = 211 (81.5%) of 259 eligible). Cases and controls were matched by age. Telephone interviews and reviews of medical records obtained height and weight, medical history, average daily hours of exposure to selected physical and organisational work factors, and self ratings on psychosocial work scales. RESULTS: In the final logistic regression model, five work and three non-work variables were associated with risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, after adjusting for age. For each one unit of increase in body mass index (kg/m2), risk increased 8% (odds ratio (OR) 1.08; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.03 to 1.14). Having a previous musculoskeletal condition was positively associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (OR 2.54; 95% CI 1.03 to 6.23). People reporting the least influence at work had 2.86 times the risk (95% CI, 1.10 to 7.14) than those with the most influence at work. CONCLUSIONS: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a work related disease, although some important measures of occupational exposure, including keyboard use, were not risk factors in this general population study. The mechanism whereby a weight gain of about six pounds increases the risk of disease 8% requires explanation.

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