Radial nerve mobilisation had bilateral sensory effects in people with thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis: A randomised trial

Jorge H. Villafañe, Mark D. Bishop, Cesar Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Dolores Langford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Question: In people with thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis, does radial nerve mobilisation to the affected hand reduce pressure pain sensitivity in the contralateral hand? Design: Secondary analysis of data from a randomised trial with concealed allocation, assessor blinding, and intention-to-treat analysis. Participants: Sixty people with thumb CMC osteoarthritis in the dominant hand aged 70-90 years. Interventions: The experimental group received sliding mobilisation of the radial nerve and the control group received a non-therapeutic dose of intermittent ultrasound, on the affected side for six sessions over four weeks. Outcome measures: On the contralateral side, pressure pain thresholds at the lateral epicondyle, thumb CMC joint, tubercle of the scaphoid bone, and hamate bone were assessed before and after the intervention with follow-up at 1 and 2 months. Results: No important baseline differences were noted between groups. At the end of the intervention period, the experimental group had significantly a higher (ie, better) pressure pain threshold than the control group at the lateral epicondyle by 1.5kg/cm2 (95% CI 0.2 to 2.2), CMC joint by 1.2kg/cm2 (95% CI 0.5 to 2.0), scaphoid bone by 1.0kg/cm2 (95% CI 0.2 to 1.8) and hamate bone by 1.9kg/cm2 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.7). Although mean values in the experimental group remained better than the control group at all sites at both follow-up assessments, these differences were not statistically significant. Conclusion: Radial nerve gliding applied to the symptomatic hand induced hypoalgesic effects on the contralateral hand in people with CMC osteoarthritis, suggesting bilateral hypoalgesic effects of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physiotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Carpometacarpal joints
  • Hand
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physiotherapy (techniques)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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