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Carpal tunnel syndrome among apprentice construction workers.

Rosecrance JC; Cook TM; Anton DC; Merlino LA
Am J Ind Med 2002 Aug; 42(2):107-116
BACKGROUND: In terms of lost-work time and restricted workdays, surgery, and rehabilitation, one of the most costly occupational musculoskeletal disorders is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of CTS among apprentice construction workers. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included apprentices from four construction trades. Apprentices completed a self-administered questionnaire and received electrophysiologic studies assessing median nerve function across the carpal tunnel. A surveillance case definition for CTS was based on characteristic hand symptoms and the presence of median mononeuropathy across the carpal tunnel. RESULTS: Of the 1,325 eligible apprentices, 1,142 (86.2%) participated in the study. The prevalence of CTS among apprentices was 8.2%; sheet metal workers had the highest rate (9.2%). In operating engineers, the prevalence of CTS was significantly higher (OR = 6.9; 95% CI = 2.6-18.2) among the heavy equipment mechanics than the drivers of those vehicles. Body mass index, age, and self-reports of working overhead were associated with prevalent CTS. Less than 15% of the apprentices with CTS sought medical attention for their disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Many construction workers begin developing CTS before or during their apprenticeship. Few apprentices seek medical attention for hand symptoms characteristic of CTS. The results of this study indicate a public health need for the implementation of prevention strategies for CTS in the construction industry.
Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Construction-workers; Construction; Construction-industry; Injuries; Age-factors; Hand-injuries; Injury-prevention; Carpal-tunnel-syndrome; Ergonomics; Lost-work-days; Health-surveys; Questionnaires; Electrophysiology; Nerve-damage; Nerve-function; Weight-factors; Author Keywords: carpal tunnel syndrome; construction; musculoskeletal disorders; nerve conduction studies; surveillance
John C. Rosecrance, 134 I.R.E.H., Department of Occupational and Environmental Health,The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-5000
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Grant; Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-K01-OH-000182; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-317202
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Iowa, Iowa City
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division