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Study: Computer Use Doesn't Increase Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Compiled By Dave Schafer Long hours spent hunched over a computer keyboard does not increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a study by the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., found. The study examined 257 Mayo Clinic employees who used computers an average of six hours a day. The research indicates that while about 30% said they felt "pins and needles sensations" or numbness in their hands, only 10.5% of participants met clinical criteria for CTS. This incidence is similar to that found in the general population in past studies, the study's authors say. "We expected to find a much higher incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome in the heavy computer users in our study because it is a commonly held belief that computer use causes carpal tunnel syndrome," says J. Clarke Stevens, a neurologist the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and lead author of the study. "We studied computer users because, though there is a commonly held notion that using a computer causes CTS, there really have been few studies published that looked at this in a scientific way," says Stevens. Stevens says though computer use may not be as highly associated with CTS as thought, it is associated with numerous other medical issues. And as CTS isn't the only ergonomics issue related to computer usage, a correct office setup still has merit, he notes. Other repetitive motions in labor-intensive jobs outside the office have been linked to CTS, including work in a meat packing plant and using a jackhammer, Stevens says.

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