Research has suggested that persistent sensory and motor impairments predominate the symptoms experienced by patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS); with intermittent pain symptoms, being less predominant.
The study aims to determine the relative contribution of sensory, motor and pain impairments as contributors to patient-report or performance-based hand function.
Fifty participants with a diagnosis of CTS confirmed by a hand surgeon and electrodiagnosis were evaluated on a single occasion. Impairments were measured for sensibility, pain and motor performance. A staged regression analysis was performed. In the first step, variables with each of the 3 impairment categories were regressed on the Symptom Severity Scale (SSS) to identify the key variables from this domain. Models were created for both self report (Quick Disabilities of arm, shoulder and hand- Quick DASH) and performance based (Dexterity) functional outcomes. Backward regression modelling was performed for SSS and then, to allow comparability of the importance of different impairments across models, the 7 significant variables from the SSS model were forced into the models.
Variables: age, touch threshold and vibration threshold of the little finger of unaffected hand, median-ulnar vibration threshold ratio of affected hand, mean pain tolerance of unaffected hand, grip strength and pinch strength of affected hand, explained 31%, 36% and 63% of the variance in SSS, Quick DASH and dexterity scores, respectively.
Hand function in patients with CTS is described by variables that reflect sensory status of the median and ulnar nerves, the persons pain threshold, grip and pinch strength impairments and age.