Who is affected by carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects approximately 2% to 3% of the general population. It is more common in women than in men.1

Recently, there has been an increase in work-related cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. This may be because of greater awareness about the condition and because many people at work use forceful or repetitive hand movements (such as performing assembly-type work) or have hand-arm vibration, all of which may be related to carpal tunnel syndrome. Obesity, smoking, and medical conditions such as pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes can also contribute to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when combined with forceful or repetitive hand and wrist movement or the use of vibrating equipment.

When compared with other illnesses and injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of absences from work. It is most often found in people whose jobs require repeated motions, especially people who work on assembly lines in industries such as manufacturing.


  1. Atroshi I, et al. (1999). Prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in a general population. JAMA, 282(2): 153–158.

Last Updated: October 29, 2008

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