The connection between carpal tunnel and amyloidosis is one that is already established. In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is one of many potential symptoms of amyloidosis, but it is a symptom that tends to present early. It is not uncommon to hear patients started experiencing carpal tunnel five to ten years before they were diagnosed with amyloidosis.
Clinicians are becoming aware of this connection and are starting to investigate the connection. Two studies have been published that investigate the connection between carpal tunnel and amyloidosis.
The first study from 2018 was a “prospective, cross-sectional, multidisciplinary study of consecutive men age ≥ 50 years and women ≥ 60 years undergoing carpal tunnel release surgery. Biopsy specimens of tenosynovial tissue were obtained and stained with Congo red.”3 Of the patients that were eligible for Congo red staining (n=98), a total of 10 came back positive for amyloidosis.3 That is a hit rate of just over 10%.
In a larger second study from 2022, a total of 185 patients underwent carpal tunnel release surgery, where 54 biopsies confirmed evidence of amyloidosis with Congo red staining.1 That is a hit rate of 29%.
The results of these studies are powerful and provide an opportunity to change the trajectory of diagnosing amyloidosis, particularly doing so much earlier. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, carpal tunnel release surgery is the second most common type of surgery, performed over 230,000 times every year.4
PERSPECTIVE FROM AN ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON
“Since carpal tunnel syndrome is often one of the earliest signs of underlying amyloidosis, those with undiagnosed disease could greatly benefit from tissue biopsies at the time of surgery. A positive biopsy result could initiate the road to disease stabilization and hopefully future cures, avoiding the all-too-often rapid decline of health before final recognition. Bringing the surgeon into the arena of amyloidosis diagnosis and care broadens the net for catching this disease early and prepares the surgeon as a team-player for future medical support.”
Charles Williams Sr., MD
Retired Orthopedic Surgeon
Screening for amyloidosis in carpal tunnel release surgery can be a low-cost method of detecting amyloidosis that should be considered.2
Most importantly, identifying and diagnosing amyloidosis early has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes and substantially alter the course of disease.
Truly life changing.
P.S. Click here to read our previous post on Carpal Tunnel & Amyloidosis