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Keywords:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • flexor tendon

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of carpal tunnel pressure on the gliding characteristics of flexor tendons within the carpal tunnel. Eight fresh human cadaver wrists and hands were used. A balloon was inserted into the carpal tunnel to elevate the pressure. The mean gliding resistance of the middle finger flexor digitorum superficialis tendon was measured with the following six conditions: (1) as a baseline, before balloon insertion; (2) balloon with 0 mmHg pressure; (3) 30 mmHg; (4) 60 mmHg; (5) 90 mmHg; (6) 120 mmHg. The gliding resistance of flexor tendon gradually increased as the carpal tunnel pressure was elevated. At pressures above 60 mmHg, the increase in gliding resistance became significant compared to the baseline condition. This study helps us to understand the relationship between carpal tunnel pressure, which is elevated in the patient with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and tendon gliding resistance, which is a component of the work of flexion. These findings suggest that patients with CTS may have to expend more energy to accomplish specific motions, which may in turn affect symptoms of hand pain, weakness and fatigue, seen commonly in such patients. © 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 29:58–61, 2011