University of Oulu

Hulkkonen S, Shiri R, Auvinen J, Miettunen J, Karppinen J, Ryhänen J (2020) Risk factors of hospitalization for carpal tunnel syndrome among the general working population. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2020;46(1):43–49. doi:10.5271/sjweh.3835

Risk factors of hospitalization for carpal tunnel syndrome among the general working population

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Author: Hulkkonen, Sina1; Shiri, Rahman2; Auvinen, Juha3,4,5;
Organizations: 1Department of Hand Surgery, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Finland
2Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
3Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Oulunkaari Health Center, Ii, Finland
6Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Nordic Association of Occupational Safety and Health, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-10-30


Objectives: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) causes a considerable amount of sick leave and healthcare costs. The etiology of CTS is multifactorial, involving both personal and occupational risk factors. To date, few prospective cohort studies on occupational risk factors of CTS have examined the general working population.

Methods: The study population consisted of participants from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 who attended the 31-year follow-up in 1997 and were working ≥3 days a week in a paid job (N=6326). Information on socio-economic status, weight and height, smoking, exposure to occupational physical factors, and long-term illnesses was collected at baseline in 1997. Data on hospitalizations due to CTS came from the Care Register for Health Care, 1997–2016.

Results: Between 1997 and 2016, 3.4% of the participants had been hospitalized (attended secondary care) for CTS. After adjusting for confounders, women [hazard ratio (HR) 3.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.70–5.25], overweight/obese participants (HR 1.69, 95% CI 1.29–2.22), smokers (HR 1.48, 95% CI 1.12–1.96), farmers and manual workers (HR 3.02, 95% CI 1.85–4.92 compared with upper clerical workers), lower clerical workers (HR 1.74, 95% CI=1.08–2.80), workers exposed to hand vibration (HR 2.29, 95% CI 1.48–3.54) and participants with physically demanding jobs (HR 1.71, CI 1.06–2.76) were at increased risk of hospitalization for CTS. Physically demanding work increased the risk of hospitalization for CTS for overweight/obese participants at baseline, but not for participants of normal weight.

Conclusions: Excess body mass and occupational physical factors increase the risk of hospitalization for CTS. Excess body mass potentiates the adverse effects of strenuous work on CTS.

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Series: Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health
ISSN: 0355-3140
ISSN-E: 1795-990X
ISSN-L: 0355-3140
Volume: 46
Issue: 1
Pages: 43 - 49
DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.3835
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: The studies presented in this article were supported by personal research grant from the Lapland Regional Fund of Finnish Cultural Foundation to Sina Hulkkonen.
Copyright information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.