Finite element model of subsynovial connective tissue deformation due to tendon excursion in the human carpal tunnel

Jacqueline Henderson, Andrew Thoreson, Yuichi Yoshii, Kristin D. Zhao, Peter C. Amadio, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a nerve entrapment disease, which has been extensively studied by the engineering and medical community. Although the direct cause is unknown, in vivo and in vitro medical research has shown that tendon excursion creates microtears in the subsynovial connective tissue (SSCT) surrounding the tendon in the carpal tunnel. One proposed mechanism for the SSCT injury is shearing, which is believed to cause fibrosis of the SSCT. Few studies have reported quantitative observations of SSCT response to mechanical loading. Our proposed model is a 2-D section that consists of an FDS tendon, interstitial SSCT and adjacent stationary tendons. We believe that developing this model will allow the most complete quantitative observations of SSCT response to mechanical loading reported thus far. Boundary conditions were applied to the FEA model to simulate single finger flexion. A velocity was applied to the FDS tendon in the model to match loading conditions of the documented cadaver wrist kinematics studies. The cadaveric and FEA displacement results were compared to investigate the magnitude of stiffness required for the SSCT section of the model. The relative motions between the model and cadavers matched more closely than the absolute displacements. Since cadaveric models do not allow identification of the SSCT layers, an FEA model will help determine the displacement and stress experienced by each SSCT layer. Thus, we believe this conceptual model is a first step in understanding how the SSCT layers are recruited during tendon excursion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-155
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2011



  • Carpal tunnel
  • Finite element analysis model
  • Subsynovial connective tissue (SSCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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