Ultrasound Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a recognisable pattern of symptoms and signs, which are caused by compression of the median (middle) nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. This condition affects individuals by causing pain, numbness, tingling sensations and sometimes weakness in the fingers and may extend to shoulder and neck areas. The cause for most cases is unknown (idiopathic) though some common conditions are associated with an increased incidence, including obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, and trauma. Diagnosis is primarily clinical and the condition is easily recognised from the characteristic symptoms in straightforward cases but diagnostic support is provided by investigations such as nerve conduction studies and ultrasound imaging. Treatment may include splinting, local steroid injection at wrist, activity modification,physical or occupational therapy (controversial), medications, and surgery. Treatment with local therapeutic ultrasound has been suggested to be effective but existing trials are inconclusive. Wrist splinting is only partially effective with a success rate of 34%, Steroid injection is followed by frequent relapses and there remains uncertainty about the safety of serial injections. Surgery is effective but has a small but significant incidence of permanent complications. Any demonstrably effective and safe addition to the therapeutic options would be a significant advance in treatment. Therapeutic ultrasound at present appears a promising option, having a very good safety record but so far uncertain evidence of efficacy. In our trial patients, with mild carpal tunnel syndrome, confirmed by nerve conduction studies, will all be given wrist splints so that no patients will be left untreated. They will be randomly allocated to either therapeutic or sham ultrasound therapy (20 sessions over 7 weeks) and followed up for 1year. The patients, operators of the ultrasound equipment and assessors will all be blind to treatment allocation. The effect of treatment on symptoms will be assessed using a validated questionnaire and nerve conduction studies will be repeated at completion of the ultrasound treatment, 6 and 12 months. This study is designed to find out to whether therapeutic ultrasound is an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Full Title of Study: “A Randomised Controlled Double Blind Trial Of Therapeutic Ultrasound in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)”
- Study Type: Interventional
- Study Design
- Allocation: Randomized
- Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
- Primary Purpose: Treatment
- Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
- Study Primary Completion Date: February 2017
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the commonest peripheral nerve disorder in the UK. Average annual incidences (per 100 000) were 139.4 for women and 67.2 for men in East Kent, UK. It has significant economic impact, on average having the largest recuperation period of all injuries / illness that require days away from work. It causes tingling, numbness or pain in the distribution of the median nerve (the thumb, index, and middle fingers, and half the ring finger) that is often worse at night and causes wakening. The pathology of idiopathic CTS is a non-inflammatory fibrosis of the subsynovial connective tissue surrounding the flexor tendons but the causes are not fully understood. Many treatments have been proposed but reviews performed by the Cochrane collaboration have found firm evidence in support of only: 1. Surgical decompression of the carpal tunnel. 2. Steroid therapy (local injection or systemic administration). 3. Neutral angle wrist splinting. None of the available evidence based treatments for CTS are entirely satisfactory. Splinting is only partially effective with a success rate of 34%, Steroid injection is followed by frequent relapses and there remains uncertainty about the safety of serial injections. Surgery results in a small but significant incidence of permanent morbidity from complications. Any demonstrably effective and safe addition to the therapeutic options would be a significant advance. Of the many candidate treatments, therapeutic ultrasound at present appears the most promising and is therefore the subject of this proposal Therapeutic ultrasound has a very good safety record and is essentially non-invasive. In this trial, patients with mild carpal tunnel syndrome, confirmed by nerve conduction studies, will all be given wrist splints. They will be randomly allocated to either real or sham ultrasound therapy (20 sessions over 7 weeks) and followed up for 1 year. The effect of treatment on symptoms will be assessed using a validated questionnaire and nerve conduction studies will be repeated at completion of the ultrasound treatment at 7th week and further after 6 and 12 months time. This will be a randomised, double blind, single-centre, clinical trial conducted by East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trusts (Kent and Canterbury Hospital), with follow-up for 1 year from completion of treatment. Following randomisation, patients will be required to attend the clinic for 20 sessions over a 7 weeks period (5x weekly for 2 weeks then 2x weekly for 5 weeks).
- Device: EMS Therasonic 460 Primo Ultrasound therapy
- 1MHz / 1.0W/cm square probe for 15 minutes per session for 20 sessions.
Arms, Groups and Cohorts
- Placebo Comparator: Sham Ultrasound regimen
- A switch in the transducer circuit allows mock ionisation as a result no ultrasound emitted.
- Active Comparator: Real Ultrasound therapy
- Pulsed mode ultrasound therapy
Clinical Trial Outcome Measures
- Changes in Boston/Levine subjective Symptom score
- Time Frame: Baseline, 7th week, 6 months and end of 12months
- Improvement in the Boston/Levine subjective Symptom score at completion of Ultrasound treatment(real or sham), a decrease of at least 1.04 points being considered a clinically significant change.
- Functional status score
- Time Frame: 7th week, 6 months and end of 12 months
- Improvement in functional status score, participants overall opinion of outcome, duration of Ultrasound therapy effect and relapses will be assessed for one year.
- Nerve Conduction Studies
- Time Frame: Baseline,7th week, 6 months and end of 12 months
- Changes in Nerve Conduction Studies grading.
- Ultrasound Imaging of Wrist(s)
- Time Frame: Baseline, 7th week, 6 and 12 months
- Measurements of Cross section Area (CSA)of the median nerve at the wrist(s).
Participating in This Clinical Trial
- Male and female participants aged between 18 and 90 years with mild carpal tunnel syndrome (Canterbury NCS grades 1-3). – No Previous treatment history other than splinting and use of over the counter NSAIDs. Exclusion Criteria:
- Subjects diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, secondary entrapment neuropathies diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid disease, acute trauma. – Previous carpal tunnel surgery. – Pregnancy or lactating. – Patients with known HIV infection. – Other serious medical or psychiatric illness currently ongoing, or experienced within the past three months, that in the opinion of the investigator would compromise the study. – Patients unable to comply with the protocol requirements, including severe alcohol and drug use.
Gender Eligibility: All
Minimum Age: 18 Years
Maximum Age: 90 Years
Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No
- Lead Sponsor
- East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
- Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
- Principal Investigator: Kamalakannan Jothi, Highly Specialised Clinical Physiologist – Neurophysiology – East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
- Overall Official(s)
- Kamalakannan Jothi, Principal Investigator, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
- Jeremy Bland, Study Chair, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
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