Epidemiology of carpal tunnel syndrome in patients with single versus multiple trigger digits

Lauren E. Wessel, Duretti T. Fufa, Martin I. Boyer, Ryan P. Calfee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous studies have identified the association between trigger digit and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). However, whether the presence of multiple trigger digits affects the prevalence of CTS is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of carpal tunnel symptoms in patients treated for single versus multiple trigger digits. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 300 patients treated for trigger digit by injection or surgical release and recorded CTS symptoms, signs, and treatment for either the ipsilateral or contralateral hand documented within 24 months before trigger digit treatment and for an average of 35 months (range, 7- 66 mo) after treatment. Patients were categorized as having single (n = 160) or multiple (n = 140) trigger digits. Binary logistic regression modeled risk factors for development of CTS. Patient age, sex, number of trigger digits (single or multiple), and presence of diabetes, gout, thyroid disease, or thumb osteoarthritis were considered independent variables. Results: A total of 58 of 140 patients (41%) who presented with multiple trigger digits exhibited concomitant carpal tunnel symptoms, compared with 26 of 160 (16%) patients who presented with a single trigger digit. Significant independent predictors of CTS associated with trigger digits in the final regression model included multiple trigger digits (odds ratio = 3.6; subjects with multiple trigger digits had significantly higher odds of carpal tunnel presentation than subjects with a single trigger digit) and diabetes (odds ratio = 1.9; diabetic subjects had significantly higher odds of carpal tunnel presentation than nondiabetics). Conclusions: A greater than 3-fold increase in the relative risk of CTS development exists in patients undergoing treatment for multiple trigger digits, compared with those undergoing treatment for a single trigger digit. Awareness of this association may aid in the early diagnosis and treatment of CTS in patients presenting with multiple trigger digits. Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Carpal tunnel
  • multiple
  • trigger digit


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