Are Working Women more at risk for developing CTS than Male Workers?

Absolutely! Traditionally “female intensive jobs”- secretary, reservationist, telephone operator, telemarketer, etc., are also “repetitive motion intensive” thereby placing women at a higher risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Sydrome.

Consider the following numbers:

  • In 1992, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that while women accounted for about 45% of all workers, they experienced nearly 2/3’s of all work-related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Stress Injuries.
  • A report by NIOSH revealed that more than 50% of all food cashiers (jobs predominently held by women) suffered to some degree, from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other Repetitive Stress Injuries as a result of the physical demands of scanning products at high speed.
  • Nearly 25% or 355,000 members of the Union of Needle and Industrial Textile Employees suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other Repetitive Stress Injuries. Women make up 75% of their membership.

Women are also at a greater risk for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than male workers due to a combination of factors including:

  • ANATOMICAL– Women congenitally have smaller, square shaped wrists and consequently have a narrower carpal tunnel passage which predisposes them to developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. According to Dr. Robert Markison, a noted hand surgeon at the University of California at San Francisco, “because women have, on the average, a slightly lower body temperature, they are inclined to be ‘cool-handed.’ Cool hands are more prone to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and are much slower to heal.”
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL– While a job that requires constant repetitive motion is the primary cause for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, women face an increased likelihood for developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to several contributing factors including pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes from the use of birth control pills and gynecological surgery, all of which can result in soft tissue changes and swelling of the wrists.
  • SOCIAL– Researchers have established that work-related stress can render women more susceptible to developing certain soft tissue changes increasing the likelihood of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Even though men and women are under ever increasing pressures due to down-sizing and productivity demands, women typically have to cope with additional stresses; working for multiple bosses, unequal pay and household responsibilities.

The majority of female Carpal Tunnel Syndrome claimants are employed in an office environment where there is a relatively low incidence of traumatic work-related injuries. Therefore, they have little personal experience of the practical and legal complexities of the Workers’ Compensation claim process, making them “easy prey” for the Workers’ Compensation insurance company adjustors.