Myths of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are so many “old wives tales” surrounding carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) that I thought I’d debunk a few.

Myth #1: CTS is related to typing or computers.
In short, this is simply untrue. This theory is based upon very poorly done “junk science” from years ago. This was made a big deal by plaintiff attorneys and picked up by the press when there was a class-action lawsuit against keyboard manufacturers years ago. However, more recently performed good research studies have shown that not only is there no association between computer use/typing and CTS, but that people who use computers and/or keyboards more may have a decreased risk of CTS than people who do less typing.

Myth #2: CTS is related to my job.
Mainly untrue. To be a significant risk factor for CTS both high force and high repetition over a prolonged period of time need to occur. That’s why typing, which is high repetition but low force, is not a risk factor. Assembly line work and other ‘overuse occupations’ are not related to CTS. Unless you have one of the following high risk jobs, your CTS is much more likely to be due to genetic factors or personal issues (weight, age, diabetes, thyroid issues, rheumatoid diseases, etc) than due to your job. The high risk operations are: jackhammer operator (a significant exposure to vibration over a prolonged period of time can potentially induce CTS; please note that riding in a vehicle is not the type of vibration I’m talking about here), poultry processor, meat packer, meat cutter and cake decorator. Please note that these are not proven to lead to cTS, but some noted authorities have considered these occupations predisposing risk factors for CTS.

Myth #3: CTS should be worse in my right hand if I’m right-handed or worse in my left hand if I’m left-handed.
Untrue. There is no predilection for the dominant hand. Again, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not due to overuse (with the few above exceptions), so you’re just as likely to develop it in either hand.

Myth #4: Exercises and/or therapy can help with my CTS.
Untrue. CTS is a space problem, where the nerve is pinched at the wrist, so exercises won’t help. Confusion occurs because many things, such as massage, exercise, a few drinks, etc. can make almost any problem feel better in the short run. But they are not curative and will make no difference in the long run.

Myth #5: Lasers or laser surgery can help CTS.
Untrue. This has been totally debunked by scientific studies. And the only laser surgery that is currently done, as far as I’m aware, is in the eyes. In the body, lasers generate too much heat, kill much more tissue than does a knife and scissors, and have led to serious problems where ever they’ve been used in the arms and legs.

I hope that helps.