Sex differences in carpal tunnel syndrome: Comparison of surgical and non-surgical populations

Mauro Mondelli, I. Aprile, M. Ballerini, F. Ginanneschi, F. Reale, C. Romano, S. Rossi, L. Padua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) patients are known to show gender-related differences in severity. The main aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine whether these differences between women and men may be related to age, education or body mass index (BMI) in two populations, one with idiopathic CTS not treated surgically and the other with idiopathic CTS treated by surgical decompression. A secondary aim was to check differences in surgical results between the genders in the surgical population. The non-surgical population consisted of 172 subjects (126 women and 46 men, mean age 55.1 years) whose data were obtained at electrophysiological examination. The surgical population consisted of 219 patients (177 women and 42 men, mean age 55.1 years) whose data were obtained before surgery. Age, education, BMI, duration of symptoms, electrophysiological and clinical severity of CTS (with ordinal scales), and the self-administered Boston Questionnaire (BQ) of symptoms and functional status of hands were considered. There were no differences in age or clinical and electrophysiological severity between women and men in either group, except for distal motor latency of the median nerve that was more delayed and duration of symptoms that was shorter in men than women in non-surgical sample. Men had a higher BMI than women. Women had higher BQ scores in the surgical and non-surgical samples. These differences remained when the results were analysed matching the men with an identical number of women of the same age, education and BMI. In the surgical population, the results of surgical decompression did not modify the gender-related differences in severity. As in many other syndromes and diseases, for a given clinical severity, women with CTS were more sensitive than men in reporting their symptoms. Risk factors of CTS, such as age, education and BMI, were not responsible for these differences. The results of surgical decompression were similar in men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-983
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gender
  • Levine's self-administered questionnaire
  • Median nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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