Effects of static fingertip loading on carpal tunnel pressure
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between carpal tunnel pressure and fingertip force during a simple pressing task. Carpal tunnel pressure was measured in 15 healthy volunteers by means of a saline-filled catheter inserted percutaneously into the carpal tunnel of the nondominant hand. The subjects pressed on a load cell with the tip of the index finger and with 0, 6, 9, and 12 N of force. The task was repeated in 10 wrist postures: neutral; 10 and 20 degrees of ulnar deviation; 10 degrees of radial deviation; and 15, 30, and 45 degrees of both flexion and extension. Fingertip loading significantly increased carpal tunnel pressure for all wrist angles (p = 0.0001). Post hoc analyses identified significant increase (p < 0.05) in carpal tunnel pressure between unloaded (0 N) and all loaded conditions, as well as between the 6 and 12 N load conditions. This study demonstrates that the process whereby fingertip loading elevates carpal tunnel pressure is independent of wrist posture and that relatively small fingertip loads have a large effect on carpal tunnel pressure. It also reveals the response characteristics of carpal tunnel pressure to fingertip loading, which is one step in understanding the relationship between sustained grip and pinch activities and the aggravation or development of median neuropathy at the wrist.
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