Typing Rarely Cause of Carpal Tunnel
Mouse, Not Keyboard More Likely to Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Is the Mouse More Dangerous Than the Keyboard? continued...
Olney says the simplest way to confirm carpal tunnel syndrome is to perform a nerve conduction test that reveals whether the median nerve is responsible for the symptoms. But this study used only a clinical interview to confirm "possible carpal tunnel syndrome" cases. According to previous research, Olney says that only about a third of the cases that meet the clinical definition for carpal tunnel syndrome actually turn out to be carpal tunnel syndrome.
"It would also be useful to look at really high levels of computer usage [more than 30 hours per week] and use more objective measures to be certain if it's carpal tunnel syndrome or not," Olney tells WebMD.
Computer-Related Pain May Be Something Else
Researchers say their findings suggest that other factors may be causing the pain experienced by computer users. The study showed the onset of new symptoms was often linked to an accident, other medical disorders, and smoking.
"It is probable that tingling and numbness are common symptoms of either specific medical conditions other than carpal tunnel syndrome or are part of a large burden of medically unexplained symptoms that reflect the stresses and strains of everyday life," write the researchers.
Andersen says his advice to people who do a lot of computer work and suffer from hand and arm pain is don't jump to conclusions that it's carpal tunnel syndrome.
"Most likely, symptoms that are mild will disappear," Andersen tells WebMD. "If you have numbness or tingling exclusively in the first, second, or third fingers, the likelihood is much higher that it's carpal tunnel syndrome. But if it's in the whole hand, it's not likely that it's carpal tunnel syndrome."
Olney says that many people with carpal tunnel syndrome may not be able to precisely identify which fingers are affected by numbness and tingling. However, he says if the pain is nonspecific and occurs without those other symptoms, it's a good sign that the problem is not carpal tunnel syndrome.
Olney says other non-nerve related conditions, such as tendinitis, can cause carpal tunnel syndrome-like pain and numbness in the hands and arms. These conditions can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, occupational therapy, or some modification of work habits, such as making a more ergonomic workstation.