The Effectiveness of Carpal Tunnel Release
van Tol, Levi
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Hand injuries involving the carpal tunnel are very common in today’s society, affecting 4-10 million people per year. This problem may become more prevalent due to an increase in new hand-oriented activities like texting and gaming. The carpal tunnel is found just under the skin of the palm towards the wrist (Biundo and Rush, 2013) and is made up of carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament. Breakdown and/or pressure to this tunnel puts pressure on the median nerve of the hand and leads to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS decreases hand strength and numbs the hand in the thumb, index, and middle finger. It is often treated by surgery. Carpal tunnel release is the surgery that relieves pressure to the median nerve and flexor tendons inside the carpal tunnel. It is important to determine the long-term effectiveness of carpal tunnel release to improve treatment recommendations and devise post-operative rehabilitation protocols. This study will test post-operative grip strength, pinch strength, and manual dexterity by the Box and Block test in former CTS patients ages 65 and over who have had carpal tunnel release. Subject performance will be compared to age- and gender- controlled normative data from previous literature. It is hypothesized that there will be no significant difference between post-operative scores and normative data since subjective reports find that hand function is fully restored. This study will also determine the role of physical therapy to carpal tunnel release.