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      Concurrent musculoskeletal and soft tissue pain in the upper extremity can affect the treatment and prognosis of carpal tunnel syndrome: redefining a common condition

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          To demonstrate the importance of recognizing and separating nonmedian nerve-related symptoms from those related to median nerve compression at the carpal tunnel.


          The records of 80 patients, aged 31–82 years (39 males and 41 females), who had undergone median nerve decompression using open and endoscopic release surgery, were reviewed. Peripheral electrodiagnostic studies were performed in all patients prior to surgery. Those whose nonmedian nerve-related symptoms, also known as musculoskeletal and soft tissue pain and tenderness, persisted postoperatively, were referred to another electrodiagnostic study to reassess the median nerve function at the carpal tunnel. Peripheral electrodiagnostic studies were deemed unnecessary for patients with exclusively median nerve-related symptoms who improved dramatically following surgery. Included from the study were cases whose presenting symptoms were primarily referrable to median nerve dysfunction with or without associated musculoskeletal pain. Cases that were excluded were those whose symptoms were related to various primary conditions. Outcome of surgery was reviewed and correlated with symptoms related to median nerve compression and musculoskeletal irritation, and with electrodiagnostic abnormalities.


          Complete resolution of symptoms, following surgery, occurred in patients with clinical and electrophysiologic signs of median nerve compression but without significant symptoms of musculoskeletal irritation. Those with concurrent and prominent musculoskeletal and soft tissue pain had variable results, both favorable and unfavorable, including three who developed signs and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.


          The symptoms related to median nerve compression at the carpal tunnel and the symptoms related to musculoskeletal and soft tissue irritation are two different symptom complexes that have important diagnostic and therapeutic considerations. We would like to propose that “true carpal tunnel syndrome” symptoms, those that are exclusively median nerve related, should be considered a distinct entity. When musculoskeletal and soft tissue pain is more prominent and dominates the overall clinical presentation, the term “mechanical stress syndrome” is more appropriate.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome in a general population.

          Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a cause of pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and is an important cause of work disability. Although high prevalence rates of CTS in certain occupations have been reported, little is known about its prevalence in the general population. To estimate the prevalence of CTS in a general population. General health mail survey sent in February 1997, inquiring about symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling in any part of the body, followed 2 months later by clinical examination and nerve conduction testing of responders reporting symptoms in the median nerve distribution in the hands, as well as of a sample of those not reporting these symptoms (controls). A region in southern Sweden with a population of 170000. A sex- and age-stratified sample of 3000 subjects (age range, 25-74 years) was randomly selected from the general population register and sent the survey, with a response rate of 83% (n = 2466; 46% men). Of the symptomatic responders, 81% underwent clinical examination. Population prevalence rates, calculated as the number of symptomatic responders diagnosed on examination as having clinically certain CTS and/or electrophysiological median neuropathy divided by the total number of responders. Of the 2466 responders, 354 reported pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the median nerve distribution in the hands (prevalence, 14.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 13.0%-15.8%). On clinical examination, 94 symptomatic subjects were diagnosed as having clinically certain CTS (prevalence, 3.8%; 95% CI, 3.1%-4.6%). Nerve conduction testing showed median neuropathy at the carpal tunnel in 120 symptomatic subjects (prevalence, 4.9%; 95% CI, 4.1%-5.8%). Sixty-six symptomatic subjects had clinically and electrophysiologically confirmed CTS (prevalence, 2.7%; 95% CI, 2.1%-3.4%). Of 125 control subjects clinically examined, electrophysiological median neuropathy was found in 23 (18.4%; 95% CI, 12.0%-26.3%). Symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands are common in the general population. Based on our data, 1 in 5 symptomatic subjects would be expected to have CTS based on clinical examination and electrophysiologic testing.
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            Carpal tunnel syndrome.

             Kyle Bickel (2010)
            Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common compressive neuropathy in the upper extremity. The condition is responsible for substantial annual costs to society, both in terms of lost productivity and the costs of treatment. Accurate diagnostic criteria, the selection of treatment strategies based on high-level evidence, and outcomes data have been inconsistent despite the prevalence of the condition. The increased awareness of the need for evidence-based practice guidelines has, however, yielded important data to guide treatment of CTS. Evidence-based guidelines for diagnosis and treatment have been developed and should direct the treatment of CTS. Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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              Development and validation of diagnostic criteria for carpal tunnel syndrome.

              To develop clinical diagnostic criteria for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) that modeled the clinical diagnostic practices of experts.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                24 October 2017
                : 10
                : 2497-2502
                [1 ]Electroneuromyography Clinic, Oneonta, NY, USA
                [2 ]Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic and Hand Surgery and Wellness Center, Nathan Littauer Hospital, Gloversville, NY, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Reynaldo P Lazaro, Neurology and Electroneuromyography Clinic, 41–45 Dietz Street, Oneonta, NY 13820, USA, Tel +1 607 432 8272, Fax +1 607 441 5051, Email aacmbbilling@ 123456gmail.com
                © 2017 Lazaro and Eagan. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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