There are evidence based reports and statistics that suggest that the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is unknown for most patients. However, there are common conditions that can lead to CTS such as pregnancy, obesity, hypothyroidism, diabetes, arthritis and trauma. It is well known that repetitive movement or work can often result in tendon inflammation and can cause work related carpal tunnel.
In fact, musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are among the most prevalent medical conditions in the U.S., affecting 7% of the population., as reported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The U.S. Department of Labor has concluded that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the “chief occupational hazard of the 90’s” and currently affects over 8 million Americans.
Carpal Tunnel in Men versus Women
As the #1 reported medical problem, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, CTS accounts for approximately 50% of all work-related injuries. Of those affected, women account for about 45% of all workers, experiencing nearly 2/3rds of all work-related repetitive strain injuries. This makes it evident that women are twice as likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome as opposed to their male counterparts. In fact, women are at greater risk for developing CTS due to anatomical, physical, and social factors. Since 1996, the percentages of women with repetitive work injuries increased significantly, compared to that of men.
Occupations at Risk for Work Related Carpal Tunnel
Some industries have higher incidences of CTS-related events than others. Rating them from highest to lowest numbers according to the U.S. Department of Labor they are: Assemblers, Cashiers, Secretaries, General Office Clerks, Non-construction Laborers, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, Welders and Cutters, Data-entry employees, Textile Sewing Machine Operators, Order Clerks, Supervisors and Proprietors in sales occupations, Machine Operators, Truck Drivers, Non-insurance Investigators and Adjustors, Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators, Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers, Packaging and Filling Machine Operators, Janitors and Cleaners, Bank Tellers, Production Inspectors, Checkers and Examiners.
Work Related Carpal Tunnel
Repetitive stress injuries continue to have significant impact on the U.S. workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported cases are up by 770% from 10 years ago. Of all cases reported, repetitive stress injuries is one of the most frequently reported conditions in the workplace environment.
Sadly, surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is the second most common type of surgery, with well over 230,000 procedures performed annually. Upon seeking treatment, only 23% of carpal tunnel syndrome patients return to their previous professions after surgery, and up to 36% require unlimited medical treatment.
When considering the cost to the employer, the average work related carpal tunnel syndrome claim can cost $3500 in benefits and up to $40,000 in medical costs. Since 2007, carpal tunnel syndrome accounts for 28 median days missed from work in a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is evident that carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical issue that impacts both the employer and employee. Not only does it account for a loss of revenue for the employer, but also it negatively affects longevity of valuable employees.