Thumb strength affected by carpal tunnel syndrome

Zong Ming Li, Daniel A. Harkness, Robert J. Goitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We examined the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome on thumb strength in multiple directions to test the hypothesis that a force deficit would be most severe in directions associated with abduction. Twelve right-handed women with carpal tunnel syndrome in the right hand, and 12 age-matched, gender-matched, right-handed control subjects were included. Thumb strength was measured in all directions in the transverse plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the thumb. Force envelopes, the boundary of maximal force magnitude, were constructed using the directional forces. The force envelope or envelope area did not differ between the control subjects and the patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. The percentage contributions of force quadrant to the envelope area did not differ between the patients and the control subjects. Our results support the concept that thumb strength is relatively preserved with carpal tunnel syndrome, and failed to support the traditional belief that carpal tunnel syndrome preferentially impairs thumb abduction strength. The data suggest the commonly used testing of thumb abduction strength may not be an effective means to evaluate the existence or severity of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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