Ultrasound therapy effect in carpal tunnel syndrome

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Dec;79(12):1540-4. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90416-6.


Objective: To investigate the overall effect of repeated ultrasound treatment in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Design: Patient-blinded, placebo-controlled, before-after treatment trial.

Setting: University hospital PM&R department outpatient clinic and neurology department electromyography laboratory.

Patients: Eighteen women with diagnosis of CTS in 30 hands.

Interventions: Three groups, each with 10 cases of CTS, were randomly established. Continuous ultrasound therapy, with intensities of 1.5W/cm2 (group A), 0.8W/cm2 (group B), and 0.0W/cm2 (group C), was applied to palmar carpal tunnel area for 5 minutes, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks.

Outcome measures: Patients were evaluated clinically and electrophysiologically before and after the treatment.

Results: At the end of treatment, statistically significant improvement was obtained in clinical parameters in all groups: pain (p < .05), pain/paresthesia at night/day (p < .05), and frequency of awakening at night (p < .05). Although there was no statistically significant before-after difference in electrophysiologic studies, slightly decreased motor nerve conduction velocity and increased motor distal latency were noted in groups A and B, but not in group C.

Conclusion: Ultrasound therapy in CTS was comparable to placebo ultrasound in providing symptomatic relief, and the probability of a negative effect on motor nerve conduction needs to be considered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / etiology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction
  • Reaction Time
  • Risk Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*