Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Lost Work Time Involving Workers Compensation Claims

This indicator identifies the number of Minnesota employees who have filed a workers’ compensation claim with indemnity due to work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. 

hand on computer mouseCarpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the forearm into the hand, becomes compressed or squeezed while passing through the wrist.   Carpal tunnel may occur from repetitive motion or action, injury or trauma, or overexertion of the wrist in daily operations.  With appropriate workplace controls and an ergonomic configuration of a workstation, carpal tunnel syndrome is preventable. 

This indicator is based on claims data from the Minnesota’s workers' compensation system.  The data is compiled and supplied by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.  In Minnesota, a work-related injury or illness must be reported if that injury or illness incapacitates the employee for more than 3 days or if it requires medical attention.   These time and severity requirements could result in under-reporting. Also, specific occupations are excluded from the reporting requirement including farmers, independent contractors, federal employees, railroad and longshore and maritime workers.  Finally, as carpal tunnel syndrome may develop gradually over extended periods of time, workers, employers, and health care providers may be unaware of the work-related nature of the injury/illness and fail to report or make a claim. These factors together contribute to the under-reporting of carpal tunnel syndrome and underestimation by this indicator of the number of Minnesota employees affected by carpal tunnel syndrome.

Number of Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome cases with Lost Work-Time Filed with Minnesota Workers’ Compensation, 2000-2011

Year Number Rate per 100,000 Workers
Covered by Workers’ Compensation
2000 658 25.6
2001 755 29.3
2002 519 20.3
2003 774 30.5
2004 776 30.2
2005 705 27.0
2006 619 23.5
2007 570 21.5
2008 545 20.7
2009 460 18.3
2010 445 17.8
2011 362 14.2

Number of Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome Cases with Lost Work-Time Filed with Minnesota Workers’ Compensation, 2000-2011

The number of carpal tunnel cases between 2000 and 2011 in Minnesota, data available in table above

Rate of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Cases with Lost Work-Time Filed with Workers’ Compensation per 100,000 Workers Covered by the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation System, 2000-2011

Incidence rate of carpal tunnel cases between 2000 and 2011 in Minnesota, data in table above

The number of carpal tunnel cases with lost work-time that are reported to the Workers’ Compensation system have declined over the past twelve years. Ttrend analysis indicates that the decline was statistically significant.

For resources on ergonomics and how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, as well as research regarding musculoskeletal disorders, please visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s website http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ergonomics/. A fact sheet on carpal tunnel syndrome can be found at this National Institutes of Health web page.

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Updated Monday, 07-Apr-2014 09:16:01 CDT