Harvard University Gazette: Computer use deleted as carpal tunnel system cause
Posted Aug 26 2008 12:44pm
Computer use deleted
as carpal tunnel syndrome cause
More common in assembly line work
By William J. Cromie
Harvard News Office
The popular belief that excessive computer use causes painful carpal tunnel syndrome has been contradicted by experts at Harvard Medical School. According to them, even as much as seven hours a day of tapping on a computer keyboard won't increase your risk of this disabling disorder.
A . Pain, tingling, and weakness often results when a narrowed passageway, the carpal tunnel, pinches the median nerve as it passes through the wrist to the thumb, index, and middle fingers. B. and C . When the hand is flexed or extended, the carpal tunnel narrows, pressing on the median nerve, causing distress and interfering with finger movements. (Diagram courtesy Harvard Health Publications)
The pain, numbness, and tingling are more common in those who do assembly-line work in industries such as manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, or meatpacking.
Genes account for about half the cases. Women are more likely than men to suffer the syndrome.
Additional factors involve weight, pregnancy, and some diseases. Being overweight doubles the risk, according to several medical studies.
Between 20 and 60 percent of pregnant women develop the disorder, but symptoms usually go away after the baby is delivered.
Diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, and thyroid problems, connective tissue disorders, as well as previous bone dislocation or fracture, are also linked to a higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
It's estimated to affect between 2 and 3 percent of adults, or millions of people in the United States alone.
Often the disorder is classified as a repetitive stress injury, but a Harvard health publication says that's incorrect.