Between April 2000 and March 2009, carpal tunnel syndrome was managed 1700 times among 885 400 encounters in the BEACH program (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) at a rate of two contacts per 1000 encounters. This extrapolates to about 195 000 contacts annually across Australia.
Management of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) was rare in patients aged <25 years, who accounted for only 2.4% of patients at these encounters, and was most commonly recorded for patients aged 45–64 years (45.5% of patients). The problem was managed at a significantly higher rate for females (2.2 per 100 encounters) than for males (1.5 per 100), and females were therefore significantly over represented at carpal tunnel encounters (67.0% of patients) compared with total BEACH where 57% were females.1 Patients were less likely than average to be new to the practice, but the carpal tunnel problem itself was more likely to be new to the patient. The percentage of carpal tunnel problems that were work related (8.9%) was more than four times higher than the work related proportion of all problems managed in BEACH (1.9%) (Figure 1).
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