Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2000;26(6):507-513    pdf


Occupational risk factors for radial tunnel syndrome in industrial workers

by Roquelaure Y, Raimbeau G, Dano C, Martin Y-H, Pelier-Cady M-C, Mechali S, Benetti F, Mariel J, Fanello S, Penneau-Fontbonne D

Objectives The aim of the study was to evaluate both nonoccupational and occupational factors associated with radial tunnel syndrome (RTS) among industrial workers in 3 large plants.

Methods Twenty-one cases of RTS were compared with 21 referents matched for gender, age, and plant. RTS was associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in 9 cases. Past medical history, household activities, and ergonomic and organizational characteristics of the job were analyzed.

Results The study found 3 occupational risk factors for RTS. Exertion of force of over 1 kg [odds ratio (OR) 9.1, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.4-56.9] more than 10 times per hour was the main biomechanical risk factor. Prolonged static load applied to the hand during work was strongly associated with RTS (OR 5.9, 95% CI 1.2-29.9). Work posture with the elbow fully extended (0-45 degrees) was associated with RTS (OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.0-25.0). Full extension of the elbow, associated with a twisted posture of the forearm, stressed the radial nerve at the elbow. However, personal activities, household chores, and sport and leisure activities were not associated with RTS.

Conclusions The study confirms that RTS occurs in workers performing hard manual labor that requires forceful and repetitive movements involving elbow extension and forearm prosupination.