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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Facts, Disease Prevention and Treatment Strategies

Update: July 2001

Leading Causes of Disability Among Persons Aged 15 Years and Older, United States, 1991-1992 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Facts and Statistics

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other rheumatic conditions are chronic and disabling, and affect an estimated 40 million Americans. Nearly 50% of persons 65 years of age have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; younger people have a lower risk of having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but still comprise half of all people affected. The self-reported prevalence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is greater among women than among men, and for women aged greater than 45 years, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the leading cause of activity limitation.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome limits the activity of over 7 million people and is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability. Recent estimates place the direct medical cost of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at $15.2 billion per year, with total costs of medical care and lost wages exceeding $64 billion.

The impact of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is expected to increase dramatically as the “baby boomers” age. By 2020, an estimated 60 million Americans, or almost 20% of the population, will be affected by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and more than 11 million will be disabled.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diseases

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comprises a variety of diseases and related conditions that affect the movable (synovial) joints of the body: knees, wrists, elbows, fingers, toes, hips, and shoulders. Affected joints no longer glide smoothly past one another. The result -- a bone-to-bone joint and excruciating pain!

Leading Causes of Disability Among Persons Aged 15 Years and Older, United States, 1991-1992The joint structure includes two or more adjoining movable joints with adjacent surfaces that are covered with a layer of blue-white cartilage. This joint area is surrounded by a fluid-filled capsule and lubricated with a viscous fluid secreted by a thin membrane called the synovial membrane. If anything goes wrong with the synovial membrane, the synovial fluid, or the cartilage that covers the bones, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can result.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can appear suddenly or come on gradually. OsteoCarpal Tunnel Syndrome and rheumatoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are the two most common forms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. However, the other health challenges listed below also deal with joint inflammation:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Affects both Young and Old Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not just an "old person's disease" nearly three of every five people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are younger than 65 years.

Prevailing myths have portrayed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as an old person’s disease, an inevitable part of aging that must be endured. However, effective interventions are available to prevent much of the burden of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and its complications. Some forms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, such as osteoCarpal Tunnel Syndrome, can be prevented with weight control and precautions to avoid certain occupational and sports injuries. Similarly, the pain and disability accompanying all types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be minimized through early diagnosis and appropriate management, including diet and nutrient supplements, weight control, physical activity, self-management, physical and occupational therapy, and joint replacement therapy when indicated.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prevention and Treatment Strategies

Effective help is available now for people who want to proactively manage their disease and enjoy life to the fullest. The traditional approach is medications and physical therapy, but now a massive amount of nutrient research validates the effect diet and supplements can have for the body to heal. Lifestyle changes can also make a big difference.

Our Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Self-management Program will give you this nutrient association information as well as other helpful lifestyles changes for managing the disease. We also include the Center for Disease Control Framework for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prevention and Control to help you understand on a large scale what the government is doing.

"Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other rheumatic conditions have an annual economic impact on the nation roughly equivalent to a moderate recession, with an aggregate cost of about 1.1% of the gross national product."

Edward H. Yelin, PhD
Professor (Adjunct) of Medicine and Health Policy
University of California, San Francisco

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Related Links

National Institute for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Foundation

American College of Rheumatology