Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Who's Watching Your Genes.

Questionable Motives continued...

Neurologist Gary Franklin, MD, tells WebMD that the mutation in chromosome 17 has been associated with "hereditary nerve pressure palsy," a syndrome involving a cluster of nerve-related conditions that may include carpal tunnel syndrome. But a positive test for the mutation would not be indicative of a predisposition to the condition; likewise, many people with carpal tunnel syndrome would not test positive for the mutation, he says.

"There is no reason to think that the genetics of [hereditary nerve pressure palsy] have anything to do with routine carpal tunnel syndrome," says Franklin, who is medical director of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry, in Olympia.

Brave New World?

Experts say the case highlights the questionable uses to which genetic information can be put -- by employers and others with vested interests other than the health of employees -- in the new age of genetic testing. And some suggest the case may only be the tip of an iceberg.

"This is probably a trend that physicians and patients need to be aware of," says Victor Penchaszadeh, MD, professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein Medical College and chief of medical genetics at Beth Israel Medical Center, both in New York. "What this company did is outrageous, violating every principle of genetic testing and labor relations. My sense is that unless there is very strong enforcement of existing laws, new initiatives may be required to prevent this sort of thing." He is also a board member of the Genetic Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of groups representing patients with genetic-related illnesses.

A 1998 survey by the American Management Association found that just seven of 2,133 employers surveyed acknowledged using genetic tests in the workplace. But Kathy Hudson, PhD, assistant director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), which helped design the survey, says the numbers may not capture the true scope of the problem.

Many of the respondents -- who were company human resource officers -- may not have understood what was meant by genetic testing. And Hudson points out that if companies are testing employees without their knowledge -- as appears to have been the case with BNSF -- they are hardly likely to acknowledge the practice in a survey.

Today on WebMD

illustration of nerves in hand
Slideshow
Elderly patient undergoing water therapy
ARTICLE
 
Nerve Pain Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms
Article
 
neural fiber
Video
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
 
Woman opening window
Slideshow
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
Article