Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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A clinical and neurophysiological analysis of idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome with respect to gender and occupation

1 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Amala Nagar, Thrissur, Kerala, India
2 Department of Neurology, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Amala Nagar, Thrissur, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Thomas John,
epartment of Neurology, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Amala Nagar, Thrissur - 680 555, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_148_21

Background: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) predominantly affects women. Previous studies observed more intense symptoms among women without a corresponding increase in disease severity and attributed it to reporting bias. In this study, we examined whether women are inherently more vulnerable to work related median nerve dysfunction at wrist and whether reported CTS symptoms among women correspond to the degree of median neuropathy at wrist. Methods: A cross-sectional study was designed for outpatients (aged 25-59 years) diagnosed with CTS. Occupational categorisation was done based on the analysis of their individual job tasks. Symptom severity (Boston Symptom Severity Scale – SSS), functional disability (Boston Functional Status Scale - FSS), and clinical (Hi – Ob scale) and neurophysiological severity (NCS grade) were determined, compared among occupational groups and were statistically analysed. Results: A total of 454 patients (348 women and 106 men; F: M ratio 3.28:1) were included. Among them, 191 were housewives. Female manual workers and housewives reported significantly more intense symptoms with a corresponding increase in clinical and electrophysiological severity (p < 0.001) when compared to female non-manual workers. However, no significant difference in symptoms, clinical or neurophysiological severity was found between male non-manual and manual workers. Among manual workers, women were more symptomatic than men, but clinical and neurophysiological severities were significantly higher only in the older age groups. Conclusion: The differential vulnerability of the female population to hand-intensive work predisposes them to severe median nerve dysfunction at wrist with proportionately higher CTS symptoms. Therefore, working women need focussed attention for remedial measures.

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