From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Data on CTS and Computer Work

A recent report on carpal tunnel syndrome from the Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI) shows prevalence of CTS increases by almost 60% (56.77%) in data entry/typing positions. Furthermore, as a group, administrative and clerical workers demonstrate alarmingly high prevalence of CTS compared to that of the general population.

The WLDI report is based on the most recent available data (1999) from the National Health Interview Survey, the principal source of information on the health of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States and one of the major data collection programs of CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The NHIS also serves as the foundation for Official Disability Guidelines.

These statistics are contrary to some recently published material including the findings of a Mayo Clinic study that offer no correlation between computer work and CTS, but may be more in line with the experience and intuition of employers and healthcare providers wary of today’s keyboard-littered working environments. The WLDI report sites differences in sample size, which approaches 100,000 in their report, and in diagnostic criteria as possible reasons for the disparity. The most intriguing and probably most valuable of the report’s many distinctions is the distribution of CTS data with respect to age. From the age bracket (18-24), low CTS rates and disability durations increase with age, as expected. But this behavior is transitory, as they actually peak at middle age. In fact, average CTS disability durations reach their lower bound in the (65-74) age demographic, and the corresponding CTS rate is just half of its upper bound, occurring in the middle age bracket (45-54). This information is welcomed in light of growing concerns regarding the aging workforce, increased demand for computer work and uncertainty in the future of Social Security.

The WLDI special report, entitled Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): Determinants of Return-to-Work, addresses the overall prevalence and duration of CTS as well as the impacts of occupation, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and co-morbidities on the prevalence and duration of CTS. Also covered is the outcome and prevalence of different types of therapy on CTS duration.

Work Loss Data Institute is an independent database developer focused on workplace health and productivity, and publisher of Official Disability Guidelines and Employer Health Register.

To purchase Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): Determinants of Return-to-Work ($50, available in electronic and hardcopy formats) visit , or contact WLDI at 800 488-5548 or 361 883-5000.