Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD)

What are Cumulative Trauma Disorders?

The term Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) refers to an array of conditions that are all precipitated by repetitive stressors on muscles, joints, tendons, and delicate nerve tissues. Overuse syndromes, repetitive strain injuries, regional musculoskeletal disorders, and repetitive trauma disorders are all synonyms for Cumulative Trauma Disorders. These disorders are most common in the hands, wrists and elbows. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Bursitis, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis, Radial Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis and Trigger Finger are all examples of CTDs.

What causes Cumulative Trauma Disorders?

Depending on the area of injury there may be one or multiple causes for CTDs. Repetition of small awkward movements, poor posture, improper work techniques, inadequate workstation setup, and excessive or forceful grasping can all contribute to injury. Initially the injury may seem inconsequential, however, over time the cumulative effect can be debilitating. Unlike many other medical conditions, CTDs have become more commonplace as society becomes more dependent on technology.

What are the symptoms of Cumulative Trauma Disorders?

CTDs may present with pain, tenderness, edema, tingling, weakness, numbness, and loss of joint mobility or coordination. Inflammation may worsen at night resulting in increased stiffness in the morning. Symptoms may appear immediately or weeks to years after the initial injury and vary based on diagnosis.

How are Cumulative Trauma Disorders diagnosed?

Proper diagnosis of Cumulative Trauma Disorders relies on a detailed medical history and review of symptoms as well as a thorough physical examination of the affected extremity. X-rays may be used to determine bone involvement while MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and Ultrasound may be used to visualize the surrounding soft tissues. Based on the overall findings the physician will provide specific diagnosis.

How are Cumulative Trauma Disorders treated?


Implementing proper body mechanics and ergonomics is a simple way to minimize stress and reduce the incidence of Cumulative Trauma Disorders. Altering workstation design and implementing proper posture can relieve pressure and even eliminate pain. There are a wide variety of products (chairs, keyboards, mousepads, etc.) specifically designed to optimize individual performance and prevent injury. Additionally, rest, ice, splinting, hand therapy and the use of over the counter pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen may also relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation.


While most CTDs respond well to conservative treatment, the most severe cases often require surgical intervention. The indicated procedure is contingent upon the actual diagnosis. Many times a minimally invasive approach is possible. SECTR is a 10 minute outpatient minimally invasive Carpal Tunnel Release procedure and is just one example of the wide variety of choices available to individuals needing surgery. It is important to discuss all treatment options with your Doctor to determine the best plan to suit your needs.

How can Dr. Knight help you with Cumulative Trauma Disorder?

In his many years of practice, Dr. Knight has treated many patients with CTDs. Usually through conservative treatment he can resolve the problem. Occasionally, however, surgery is necessary. If you are in pain, and want to be seen and treated by a doctor with unparalleled experience in treating CTDs and RSIs, then you can be in no better hands than those of Dr. Knight.

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Disclaimer does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer