Prevalence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Professional Data: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Carpal tunnel syndrome has gained a lot of attention over the past decade. Some say it is a sign of our technology-based society because so many patients complaining of the syndrome found that it resulted from constant computer use. However, this syndrome can result from many exercises in which the hand or wrist is over-used. Understanding the condition, how it progresses, and what the healing process is like will help in avoiding the condition or in assisting with the treatment process.

The carpal tunnel is a passageway through the wrist that protects the nerves and tendons that extend into the hand. The median nerve, a nerve is both motor and sensory, within the carpal tunnel is very close to nine tendons. When the tissues that which make up the tunnel become inflamed or swollen, or if one or more of the tendons becomes injured, the median nerve is compressed. This compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel produces numbness in the thumb and the second, third, and radial half of the fourth fingers.

General symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness and/or a tingling sensation in the hands and fingers, not including the little finger. Pain may be present in the wrist, which may shoot up the arm or down into the hand. The pain or numbness is frequently worse at night.

The incidence of carpal tunnel in the general population in part of Italy was the subject of a recent study. This 8 year study, started in 1991 identified cases of carpal tunnel using criteria such as clinical symptoms. A total of 3,142 cases were diagnosed with 79.9% being women. The average age for carpal tunnel syndrome was 55 years, although the ages ranged from 13 to 97 years. The incidence of carpal tunnel in men reasonably increased during the 8-year period, while the women's incidence remained steady. Incidence peaked at the ages 50 to 59 years, and then declined. The researchers stated that this incident rate in this area of Italy is higher than areas of the United States where studies have been conducted in the past. The variance in numbers may have resulted from population demographics and differences in employment.1


1. Mondelli M. Carpal tunnel syndrome incidence in a general population. Neurology. Jan 2002; 58:289-294.