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J. Mark Melhorn
and
Kurt T. Hegmann

Abstract

Physicians often must evaluate patients who present with symptoms in a median nerve distribution and typically diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), but an accurate diagnosis is critical to determine causation and to define possible impairment. CTS is a constellation of symptoms and signs that result from mononeuropathy of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel; symptoms typically include tingling and/or numbness, dysesthesias, and/or pain in the radial palm and palmar aspect of the thumb, index, middle, and perhaps ring fingers. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests use of the CTS-6 scoring aid (shown in a table) as a clinical aid for diagnosing CTS. Electrodiagnostic testing, nerve conduction studies in particular, are considered the gold standard for diagnosis of CTS, but research suggests that the definitions of relevant sensory and assignment of CTS are sensitive to threshold changes from a latency of, eg, >4.4 msec vs >4.5 msec. Other factors to consider include whether there are effects from the known association between wrist ratio and CTS and assessing the benefits of neuromuscular ultrasound to diagnose CTS. Nocturnal paresthesias and paresthesias while holding onto an object were sensitive indicators of the presence of CTS but use of the Phalen and Hoffmann-Tinel signs has significant potential to be unreliable.

in AMA Guides® Newsletter
Joseph A. Hirsch
,
Steven Mandel
,
Kurt T. Hegmann
,
Alexandra G. Stratyner
,
Stuart Gitlow
,
James B. Talmage
, and
Christopher R. Brigham

Abstract

There is an epidemic of drug overdose–related fatalities. Recent data indicate that the age-adjusted death rate from overdoses nearly quintupled over a 20-year period (2001-2021) to 32.4 per 100,000. More than 70% of these fatalities were caused by opioid overdose, especially the synthetic drug, fentanyl. Despite an increase in substance abuse and dependency treatment, mortality and morbidity associated with opioid, cocaine, psychostimulant, benzodiazepine, alcohol, and tobacco use disorders continue to rise. To better understand the factors contributing to this crisis, the multifaceted phenomenon of drug addiction is explored. The controversial chronic, relapsing “disease of the brain” model, which emphasizes the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the ventral tegmental area, and the nucleus accumbens, is critically considered. In addition, more expansive neurobiological models that include a host of other neurotransmitters, brain regions, and cognitive processes, as well as classical and operant conditioning and social learning theory to help better understand compulsive drug taking, tolerance, risk-taking, and relapse, were examined. For this, the roles of genetics and epigenetics vs individual agency in drug addiction were considered. The economic and occupational consequences borne both individually and societally are enormous. Ultimately, whether the presence of drug addiction satisfies the criteria for a disability remains a conundrum, especially from the perspectives of financial support (eg, Social Security, private insurance companies) vs regulation (eg, licensing agencies).

in AMA Guides® Newsletter