Relative motion between the flexor digitorum superficialis tendon and paratenon in zone V increases with wrist flexion angle
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Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by non-inflammatory fibrosis of the subsynovial connective tissue (SSCT), a paratenon-like structure inside the carpal tunnel. This pathology suggests repetitive and/or excessive shear forces are involved in injury development. We assessed relative motion between the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendon and adjacent paratenon in Zone V using colour Doppler imaging as 16 healthy participants completed three long finger movements (metacarpophalangeal joint flexion, proximal and distal interphalangeal joint flexion, full finger flexion) in three wrist postures (30° extension, 0°, 30° flexion). While the type of finger movement did not affect tendon-paratenon relative motion, we found a significant main effect of wrist posture (p < 0.001). Relative displacement between the FDS tendon and paratenon (as a percentage of tendon displacement) increased from 27.2% (95%CI = 24.8-29.5%) in 30° wrist extension to 39.9% (95%CI = 37.3-42.4%) in 30° wrist flexion. Optical motion capture confirmed that wrist posture did not affect metacarpophalangeal joint range of motion (p = 0.265) or proximal interphalangeal joint range of motion (p = 0.582). These results indicate that relative motion increased due to paratenon strain when the wrist was flexed. While our findings agree with previous cadaveric research in wrist flexion, we found that relative displacement decreased in 30° wrist extension (compared to 0°). These results differ from cadaveric research, possibly due to challenges maintaining anatomic fidelity of the viscoelastic paratenon tissue in vitro. Overall, our study suggests a greater susceptibility to shear injury during repetitive finger movements, particularly when the wrist is flexed. © 2015 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 34:1248-1255, 2016.
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