Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neuropathy involving the entrapment of the median nerve. The median nerve passes along the carpal tunnel so when the carpal tunnel is affected, the median nerve may be compressed leading to symptoms such as pain, paresthesia, numbness and sometimes reduced range of motion of the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly known to be caused by typing; however, carpal tunnel does not come from typing alone.
Typing is only one of the causes of carpal tunnel syndrome; however, it is not typing alone that can lead to it. Research indicates that carpal tunnel syndrome is commonly caused by heavy manual work or working with vibrating tools that can damage the carpal tunnel, but not lighter works even if it is repetitive. In this line, typing is considered a lighter work for the hands; thereby, carpal tunnel syndrome cannot come from typing only. The presence of various conditions such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis and hypothyroidism along with a typing work can possibly lead to CTS.
A research published in 2003 also supports that typing isn’t a likely cause of carpal tunnel syndrome when other precipitating factors are not present. The study further revealed that typing for more than 25 hours per week will not likely result in numbness, tingling and pain on the hands. Although popular belief says that working in front of the computer can cause CTS, the results of the study support that working for prolonged hours using the keyboards is not an occupational hazard to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is surprising about the results is that using the mouse, rather than using the keyboards is more likely to cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The study did not find any increase in the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome among those who used the keyboard, but there seems to be an increase on the symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling on the hands among those who used a mouse for more than 20 hours in a week. Nevertheless, it was not included in the research whether these symptoms are a result of carpal tunnel syndrome.
To make things clearer, various references indicate that carpal tunnel syndrome is indeed not caused by light repetitive tasks of their wrist such as typing, but a result of heavy manual work such as working with jackhammers that not only increase the workload of the hands, but also produce vibrating motions leading to damage of the structures that support the median nerve.
Other causes seen include the presence of the following conditions:
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Physical trauma
- Hereditary neuropathy
- Tumor on the wrist
- Fracture on the wrists such as Colles’ fracture
Other conditions compressing the median nerve and the carpal tunnel may also be a cause.
Whether typing or the use of the mouse is a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome or not, it still remains a fact that typing and the use of a mouse can lead to numbness and tingling sensations in the hands. These symptoms may be a part of a bigger picture in the development of computer-related conditions so employing proper ergonomics during computer work is still essential.