Study Says Keyboard Use Doesn't Lead to Carpal Tunnel

June 13, 2003 ( - Keyboardists, rejoice. That tingling feeling may just be excitement.

According to a new study by Danish researchers, using a computer does not appear to pose a severe occupational hazard for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a Reuters report. Computer use “does not pose a severe occupational hazard for developing (the) symptoms,” the authors concluded.

“This study found a prevalence of possible carpal tunnel syndrome between 1.4% and 4.8% based on a screening questionnaire and a clinical interview, and an incidence of new or aggravated symptoms of possible carpal tunnel syndrome of 5.5 percent,” the study’s authors said in their report.

The research, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted by the Department of Occupational Medicine, Herning Hospital, Herning, Denmark, with financing from the Danish Medical Research Council and the Danish Ministry of Employment, National Work Environment Authority. The findings echo the results of a 2001 study at the Mayo Clinic that found that heavy computer use, even up to seven hours per day, does not increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. That study said that since the syndrome is a common condition affecting 10% of the population, it follows that some computer users will develop it (see Computer Use Doesn’t Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ).

Impact Effects

The Danish study findings were based on a survey of nearly 7,000 workers at 3,500 locations who were questioned initially on symptoms and 5,568 of the group who were assessed a year later. The authors said while there was evidence that forceful industrial work contributes to the problem – a tingling and numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers, which occurs when the median nerve gets squeezed at the wrist – keyboard use does not appear to have a significant impact.

“Can keyboard use then be considered an occupational risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome? From our data it seems unlikely,” the study said.

The researchers said they did find an association between use of a mouse for more than 20 hours a week and a slightly elevated risk of a possible problem but no statistically significant association with keyboard use.

“But based on other studies, we cannot exclude the possibility that very intensive and repetitive keyboard use could be a risk factor … however, our opinion is that it is not an important one,” the study concluded.

Of course, there’s always back strain, eye strain – and job strain – to worry about.