Personal and occupational risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome in meat processing industry workers in Northern Italy
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Provincial Agency for Health Services of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Trento, Italy (Department of Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety Unit)
University of Parma, Parma, Italy (Department of Biomedical, Biotechnological and Translational Sciences)
Online publication date: 2017-03-15
Corresponding author
Matteo Riccò   

Provincial Agency for Health Services of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Department of Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety Unit, Via Verona SNC, C/O Centro Servizi Sanitari, 38123 Trento, Italy
Med Pr 2017;68(2):199–209
Background: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a musculoskeletal condition that often impairs the fitness to work. Our aim is to retrospectively evaluate the association between physical exposures in meat processing industry in Northern Italy and the CTS, taking into account non-occupational factors. Material and Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed to include 434 workers (236 males, 198 females, 37.0±10.6 years old, working age: 12.6±10.8 years) from meat processing industries. Signs and symptoms were collected at the compulsory occupational medical surveillance. Occupational risk factors were assessed through a questionnaire and direct assessment by investigators. Adjusted odds ratios (ORadj) for factors of interest were estimated through binary logistic regression. Results: Diagnosis of the CTS was reported for 61 out of 434 subjects (14.1%) for an incidence of 11.3/1000 person- years. In general, signs and symptoms for the CTS were associated with the following demographic factors: smoking history (OR = 1.909, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.107–3.293), previous traumas of the upper limb (OR = 3.533, 95% CI: 1.743–7.165), hypothyroidism status (OR = 7.897, 95% CI: 2.917–21.38) and, in the case of female participants only, previous pregnancies (OR = 2.807, 95% CI: 1.200–6.566) as well as a personal history of oral contraceptive therapy and/or steroidal replacement therapy (OR = 11.57, 95% CI: 4.689–28.56). The carpal tunnel syndrome cases were associated with the following occupational factors (> 4 h/day): forceful hand exertion (ORadj = 3.548, 95% CI: 1.379–9.131), repeated trauma of the hand (ORadj = 3.602, 95% CI: 1.248– 10.395), repeated movements of the wrist (ORadj = 2.561, 95% CI: 1.100–5.960). Conclusions: Increasing levels of hand activity and force were associated with the increased CTS prevalence among participants. Recommendations have to be provided in order to reduce occupational exposure to these risk factors and improve medical surveillance. Med Pr 2017;68(2):199–209