Carpal arch space increased by volar force applied to the skin surface above the carpal tunnel

Hui Zhang, David Jordan, Zong Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Carpal arch space augmentation can help decompress the median nerve. The augmentation can be achieved by mechanical manipulations utilizing the biomechanics of the tunnel structure. The purpose of this study was to expand the carpal arch in vitro by applying volar forces on the surface of the wrist. Methods: The mechanism was implemented in eight cadaver hands by attaching a volar force transmitter to the palmar surface of the wrist and pulling the transmitter volarly at six force levels (0, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 N). Ultrasound images of the cross section at the distal carpal tunnel were collected for morphological analysis. Findings: The carpal arch height, width, and area were significantly altered by the volarly applied force (P < 0.001). The arch height and area were increased but the arch width was decreased by the force. Pearson's correlation coefficient showed that there was a positive correlation between the arch height and force magnitude; and between the arch area and force magnitude. A negative correlation existed between the arch width and force magnitude (P < 0.001). The magnitude of change of the arch height, width, and area was increased as the force magnitude increased. Interpretation: This study demonstrated that applying external forces on the wrist skin to increase the carpal arch space was feasible. The magnitude of the force influenced its effect on altering the carpal arch. Study limitations include small sample size and inclusion of male specimens. Future in vivo work is needed for clinical translation feasibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105888
JournalClinical Biomechanics
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Carpal arch space
  • Ultrasonography
  • Volar force
  • Wrist skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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