Long-term follow-up results of mechanical wrist traction as non-invasive treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

M. Meems, M.G.B.M. Boekhorst*, V.J.M. Pop

*Corresponding author for this work

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For patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the only long-term effective treatment option is carpal tunnel release surgery. Up to one-third report recurrent symptoms, and 12% needs repeated surgery. This study aimed to evaluate the long-term effects of mechanical traction as a non-invasive treatment option for CTS compared to care as usual.

Patients with electrodiagnostically confirmed CTS [N = 181; mean age, 58.1 (13.0) years; 67% women] were recruited from an outpatient neurology clinic in the Netherlands. Patients completed baseline questionnaires and randomized to the intervention group (12 treatments with mechanical traction, twice a week for 6 weeks) or care as usual. The primary clinical outcome measure was surgery during the 12-month follow-up. Secondly, we assessed symptom severity with the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) at baseline and at the 12-month follow-up. Changes in CTS symptom severity between baseline and the 12-month follow-up were analyzed between groups using t-tests and a multiple linear regression analyses, adjusting for duration of complaints, age, gender, and symptom severity at baseline.

: At the 12-month follow-up, 35 of 94 (37%) patients in the intervention group had surgery, compared to 38 of 87 (44%) in the care-as-usual group ( χ21 = 0.78, p = 0.377). Symptom severity and functional status scores did not significantly differ between the intervention (n = 81) and care-as-usual group (n = 55) at follow-up. For patients who did not have surgery, BCTQ scores decreased significantly more from baseline to the 12-month follow-up in the intervention group (n = 53) compared to patients in the care-as-usual group (n = 25). For patients who did not have surgery, belonging to the intervention group and a higher BCTQ score at baseline were related to a greater decrease in BCTQ scores from baseline to the 12-month follow-up, as well as symptom severity and functional status.

Mechanical traction is effective in reducing symptom severity compared to current conservative treatment options in standard care and can therefore benefit the large number of patients that prefer conservative treatment for CTS.

Clinical Trial Registration:
Clinical Trials NL44692.008.13. Registered 19 September 2013, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01949493
Original languageEnglish
Article number668549
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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