Because carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common disabling condition affecting working populations, our team is interested in understanding important aspects of the syndrome.

In one particular study, we have sought to identify personal and work-related predictors of upper extremity symptoms and related functional impairment. After collecting and analyzing data at baseline and 6-month follow-up using self-administered questionnaires, we found that both personal and work-related factors were independent predictors of upper extremity symptoms and functional impairment in this working population.

In another study, we compared CTS screening results obtained with the NC-stat–an automated nerve testing device–to traditional nerve conduction studies. After recruiting patients and obtaining results from the NC-stat and standard nerve conduction studies, we analyzed the data and found that the NC-stat is a convenient and sensitive method for detecting median nerve pathology at the wrist.

We have also sought to evaluate the inter-rater reliability of hand diagrams, which are commonly used in research case definitions of CTS. After conducting methods in which participants in the longitudinal study completed repeated self-administered questionnaires, we analyzed the data to determine reliability. We found that high levels of agreement were attained by independent raters of hand diagrams and that the presence of non-CTS symptoms seemed to affect results and should be considered in studies focused on diverse populations with heterogeneity of upper extremity symptoms.