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Key driver in workers' comp claims linked to office work

It may come as a surprise to some folks in Illinois but the evidence continues to grow suggesting that carpal tunnel syndrome, one of the various disorders related to repetitive strain injury, needs to be something health and safety people to take a greater interest in.

The latest evidence comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that in 2010, most employed adults who were diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome said repetitive motion at work was to blame for their injuries. This comes as no great surprise to workers' compensation attorneys. And yet, these are exactly the kinds of injuries that employers and insurance companies tend to often challenge.

CTS is caused when the band of fibrous tissue that supports the wrist joint gets inflamed or swells, often due to repetitive motion. The median nerve, which transmits sensation from the thumb and some fingers in the hand, runs through the band. So, when the band gets inflamed, it can press on the nerve and cause tingling or numbness.

The CDC points to data collected through the annual National Health Interview Survey which has been tracking Americans' health since 1957. It says poll results indicate that 69.4 percent of working adults who reported suffering from CTS said they had been informed by a doctor or other medical professional that it had been caused by things t6hey did at work; things like constant hammering on a computer keyboard.

The CDC says other recent data collected in through separate research estimates that 3.1 percent of employed adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years had been diagnosed with CTS in 2011.

May Susan Burt of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says CTS is one of the most common drivers of workers' compensation disability. Besides the cost of paying benefits, it costs businesses time and productivity. She notes a lot could be done to remedy the problem if businesses would expend some energy on finding better tools and designing workstations that would reduce physical stress.

Source: MedicalDaily.com, "CDC Survey: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Mostly Linked to Work," Adam Daley, Dec. 23, 2011

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