Pain mechanisms in carpal tunnel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative sensory testing outcomes.

Mohamed G. Sobeeh, Sherief Ghozy, Rami M. Elshazli, Marc Landry
Pain. 2021-12-15; Publish Ahead of Print:
DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002566

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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common nerve compression in the arm. A mix of peripheral and central contributions on quantitative sensory testing (QST) has been reported in the literature. Thus, this systematic review
or meta-analysis aimed to identify the dominant sensory phenotype and draw conclusive evidence about the presence of central sensitization (CS) in CTS. Based on an a priori published protocol and using PRISMA guidelines, 7 databases
were searched (Embase, Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, SAGE, EBSCOhost, and ProQuest). Eligible studies compared the QST findings of individuals with subacute and chronic CTS with those of healthy controls through thermal, mechanical, and vibration detection thresholds; thermal, pressure, and mechanical pain thresholds; mechanical pain sensitivity; presence of allodynia; wind-up ratio; and conditioned pain modulation. Thirty-seven studies were included in the qualitative analysis. Results showed a significant loss of all detection thresholds of hand median nerve territories and hand extramedian areas (little finger and hand dorsum) in CTS (P < 0.05) but no significant difference (P > 0.05) in wind-up ratio, cold, heat, or mechanical pain thresholds of the median nerve territories. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in mechanical pain sensitivity in median nerve territories and remotely in the forearm (P < 0.05) and a significant gain in pressure and heat pain thresholds in the carpal area (P < 0.05). Conditioned pain modulation was impaired in CTS. Hypoesthesia and increased thermal and mechanical pain ratings are the dominant sensory phenotype with inconclusive evidence about CS in CTS due to the heterogenous results of thermal and mechanical pain thresholds.

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