Hand Pain Overview

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Arthritis/Carpal Tunnel Overview

A collation of information from credible sources revealed that arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are among the leading causes of hand pain in the U.S. However, a survey report by Buoy Health established that the top two causes of hand pain are carpal tunnel syndrome (42%) and ulnar nerve entrapment of elbow (42%). Arthritis is responsible for at least 30 million cases of hand pain every year in the U.S., while carpal tunnel syndrome is attributed to over 8 million cases of hand pain in the U.S. every year. Below is a deep dive into our findings.

Leading causes of hand pain in the United States

An extensive search on medical journals, health organizations, health blogs, and research reports confirms that arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are some leading causes of hand pain in the U.S. An article by WebMed listed both arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome among the top five causes of hand pain. Although the report did not provide a ranking of this causes by any parameter, it noted that carpal tunnel syndrome is "one of the most common nerve disorders of the hand", while arthritis was described as "a leading source of hand pain."

Another publication by Health Line highlighted 10 causes of hand pain in the U.S. Arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome were also included on the list, with arthritis specifically regarded a leading cause of hand pain. Furthermore, a health research report published by Research Gate provided a list of the causes of hand pain, which also included both arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, a publication by Buoy Health — which originated from the Harvard Innovation Lab and partners with the Harvard Primary Care — provided a list of six causes of hand pain generated from a survey. While carpal tunnel syndrome was at the top of the list, arthritis was not included. According to the survey result, carpal tunnel syndrome (42%) and ulnar nerve entrapment of elbow (42%) were attributed as the top two causes of hand pain.

Number of hand pains caused by arthritis and carpal tunnel

While no specific data on the exact number of cases of hand pain caused by arthritis and carpal tunnel annually in the U.S. is available, we have provided an estimate of the number of incidence from available data points.

ARTHRITIS: The Arthritis Foundation noted that "about 54 million adults and almost 300,000 children “officially” have arthritis or another type of rheumatic disease" in the U.S. However, factoring in those who have not been diagnosed by a doctor takes this number to about 91 million cases. While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is regarded as the most common form. The Arthritis Foundation revealed that over 30 million Americans are diagnosed with osteoarthritis annually. Although osteoarthritis "occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers, and the bases of the thumb and big toe", and that rheumatoid arthritis also causes hand pain, it would be wrong to conclude that there are over 30 million incidences of hand pain caused by arthritis in the U.S. per year. However, we can conclude that at least 30 million cases of hand pain in the U.S. can be attributed to arthritis annually.

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: According to our findings, over 8 million Americans are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome annually. Giving that carpal tunnel affects the hand, and its "symptoms include frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers," which causes pains around the thumb, index finger, and middle finger", we can conclude that every year, there are eight million or more cases of carpal tunnel syndrome that lead to hand pain.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Arthritis/Carpal Tunnel - Treatments

According to the CDC, Arthritis Foundation, and NIH, there are at least 967,000 surgeries performed each year to treat arthritis including knee and hip replacement and revision surgery. Additionally, there are 230,000 carpal tunnel outpatient surgeries performed annually in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no information publicly available that identifies the number of wrist braces or gloves sold each year for arthritis. Below we have provided a deep dive into our research strategy as well as our findings.

Methodology

In order to determine the number of wrist braces or gloves sold per year for arthritis treatment, we began our search by scouring industry reports, publications and news articles on sites like Arthritis.org, MayoClinic.org, NCBI, and others. Unfortunately, the only information found through this search was for where to buy similar products, the benefits of the products, popular brands, and case studies of patient use. None of these sources provided any information regarding the number of sales per year.
We then decided to search through statistical databases for any information regarding wrist brace or glove sales in the United States that either fully answered how many sold to treat arthritis or could be used to triangulate the answer. We scoured sources such as Statista and Research Gate. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any results from any of these databases that related to the number of products sold per year. Some databases linked to sources found in our original search, however, there was no additional sources or information found.
Since we were unable to find any reports regarding sales, we decided to analyze individual sales. We approached this in two ways: first, we searched product databases hoping to find sales for each type of product or each brand; second, we searched each brand found through our initial search for yearly sales data that could be used to calculate a total. Our search through databases such as Household Products Database and UPCitemdb only showed where to purchase products with no information regarding brands, sales, or statistics. Finally, our search by brand also yielded no result. This was because many of the brands were private companies and did not share annual reports publicly, or had too many products to properly triangulate the information down to arthritis hand treatment devices.
We concluded that the number of wrist braces or gloves sold per year in the United States for arthritis treatment is not publicly available. This is due to many brands being privately owned.

OVERVIEW

Generally, when treating carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, a doctor will recommend that any underlying causes be treated first, such as diabetes, as this can improve the symptoms. Treatment for either ailment should begin right away under doctor supervision. Treatments often include splinting, limiting activities, over-the-counter or prescription medication, physical therapy or alternative therapy such as yoga, ice packs, and acupuncture. In 2014 there were a total of 54 million Americans diagnosed with some form of arthritis and by 2020, the National Arthritis Foundation estimates there will be 63 million diagnoses.

SURGERY

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the second most common surgery performed in the United States is for carpal tunnel syndrome with over 230,000 procedures performed per year. Of those procedures, only 23% of the patients are able to fully return to normal activities including their occupations. Two types of surgeries are generally performed for carpal tunnel patients, open release surgery and endoscopic surgery. Both surgeries are outpatient procedures that involve cutting the carpal ligament either through a small incision using a scope or a larger incision with longer recovery.
With over 100 types of arthritis, there are several treatment options depending on the location, severity, and type of arthritis. In 2013 there was over $304 billion spent in medical cost or loss of wages due to arthritis. $140 billion was spent on medical costs for arthritis by 66 million patients that year. There are 658,000 surgeries performed for end-stage knee osteoarthritis per year. In addition, there are roughly 55,000 revision surgeries performed annually. In 2000, there were 254,000 hip-replacement surgeries performed relating to arthritis. Overall, that makes 967,000 surgeries performed per year in the United States that relate to arthritis.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Wrist pain can be caused by injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, gout and etc"
Quotes
  • "People who have experienced sharp hand pain were most often matched with: - 42% Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - 42% Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Of Elbow - 14% Repetitive Strain Injury Of The Hand"
Quotes
  • "Conservative estimates only include those who report they have doctordiagnosed arthritis, indicating that about 54 million adults and almost 300,000 children “officially” have arthritis or another type of rheumatic disease. A recent study says as many as 91 million Americans may really have arthritis – when you add together those who are officially diagnosed plus those who report obvious symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed."
Quotes
  • "More than eight million people are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome each year. Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is the second most common type of musculoskeletal surgery, (back surgery is #1) with well over 230,000 procedures performed annually."