Study Refutes Keyboard, Carpal Link

A report released Wednesday by the Harvard Medical School may turn some common assumptions about computer usage on their head. According to the report, titled "Hands: Strategies for Strong, Pain-Free Hands," heavy keyboarding may not be responsible for incidences of carpal tunnel syndrome after all.

Carpal tunnel is caused when nerves in the wrist are pinched, however it's not caused by frequent use of a keyboard, claims the report. Instead, it is caused by heredity, body weight, fracture, or even pregnancy.

Now, don't go out typing to your heart's content. Researchers still warned that improper computer use could cause different types of repetitive stress injuries, of which carpal tunnel is incorrectly described as one.

Thus, it's probably a good idea to still keep that gel wrist rest close by.

The report says that about two to three percent of the population is affected by the disorder. Surgery to relieve the pain associated with the problem is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States, with over 200,000 procedures completed each year.

Research indicates that those susceptible to carpal tunnel do not increase their chances of the disorder by heavy computer use of up to seven hours per day.

The Harvard Medical School report also warned that problems due to improper computer use or workplace habits could contribute to injuries of the neck and shoulders, as well as other parts of the body.

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