Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I have filed a claim with Worker's Compensation for work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. They have turned my case down saying there is no evidence that carpal tunnel is caused by excessive or prolonged computer work. I spend hours and hours each day inputting data on a keyboard. How can they say this isn't work-related?

Answer:

It's quite true that there isn't evidence to support the notion that carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of keyboarding or other routine desk/office tasks. This is true even if these hand activities are repeated daily for hours. The idea that there's a cause and effect link between the two has been debunked (disproven) but the idea seems to persist in the mind of the public. We know for sure that regular, prolonged use of handheld vibratory tools like jackhammers and forcefully gripping tools like drills can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome from pressure on the median nerve. But that's the extent of our scientific evidence that the work place is to blame. There may be genetic and/or structural (anatomical) reasons why some people develop carpal tunnel syndrome while others engaging in the same repetitive activities do not. It could turn out to be a multifactorial (many different factors combined together) problem. Kyle D. Bickel, MD. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2010. Vol. 35A. No. 1. Pp. 147-152.

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