Peripheral median nerve block impairs precision pinch movement

Zong Ming Li, Ashish D. Nimbarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a simulated peripheral median nerve lesion on precision pinch movement by the thumb and index finger. Methods: A median neuropathy was created by blocking the median nerve at the wrist using an anesthetic. The subjects (n = 5) were asked to perform pulp-to-pulp precision pinch movements before and after the nerve block. Digit motion data was obtained with a marker-based motion analysis system. Results: The radial offset of the thumb tip, as defined by the minimum distance of the thumb tip to the flexion-extension plane of the index finger, showed an increase of 11.2 mm after the nerve block. For the thumb, the nerve block caused a decrease in the range of motion at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint, and a compensatory increase in the range of motion at the interphalangeal (IP) joint. The range of motion ratio (MCP:IP) changed from 1:4.8 (pre-block) to 1:1.0 (post-block). The maximum flexion angle at the MCP joint increased from 18.8° (pre-block) to 33.7° (post-block), and maximum flexion angle at the IP joint decreased from 42.6° (pre-block) to 18.8° (post-block). For the index finger, the nerve block caused a decrease in the range of motion at the MCP joint, and compensatory increases in the ranges of motion at the proximal and distal interphalangeal (PIP and DIP) joints. The range of motion ratio (MCP:PIP:DIP) changed from 1:1.1:0.7 (pre-block) to 1:2.4:1.8 (post-block). The maximum flexion angle at the MCP joint decreased from 56.8° (pre-block) to 34.6° (post-block), and the maximum flexion angle at the PIP joint increased from 51.2° (pre-block) to 76.0° (post-block), but the change at the DIP joint was insignificant. Conclusions: The median nerve block caused remarkable degradation of the pinch performance as quantified by an inaccurate pulp-to-pulp contact of the thumb to the index finger and an alteration of joint motion of the digits. Significance: Many fine manual tasks require accurate pulp-to-pulp positioning of the thumb to the index finger. Within the hand, the median nerve is critical to the fine sensorimotor function due to the motor supply and the sensory endings to the thumb and index finger. People with median neuropathies (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome) experience clumsiness while performing simple manual tasks. The current approach to the examination of precision pinch movement may be utilized to quantify the apparent hand clumsiness observed in individuals with peripheral neuropathy such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1948
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume117
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Finger
  • Hand
  • Median nerve block
  • Motion
  • Thumb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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