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Orthop Clin North Am. 1988 Jan;19(1):157-64.

Repetitive trauma and nerve compression.

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Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, California.


Repetitive movement of the upper extremity, whether recreational or occupational, may result in various neuropathies, the prototype of which is the median nerve neuropathic in the carpal canal. The pathophysiology of this process is incompletely understood but likely involves both mechanical and ischemic features. Experimentally increased pressures within the carpal canal produced reproducible progressive neuropathy. Changes in vibratory (threshold-type) sensibility appears to be more sensitive than two-point (innervation density-type) sensibility. The specific occupational etiologies of carpal neuropathy are obscured by methodologic and sociological difficulties, but clearly some occupations have high incidences of CTS. History and physical examination are usually sufficient for the diagnosis, but diagnostic assistance when required is available through electrophysiological testing, CT scanning, and possibly MRI. Each of these tests has limitations in both sensitivity and specificity. Treatment by usual conservative means should be combined with rest from possible provocative activities. Surgical release of the carpal canal is helpful in patients failing conservative therapy. Occupational modifications are important in both treatment and prevention of median neuropathy due to repetitive trauma.

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