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We undertook a prospective study to investigate relationships between outcome measures of ulnar neuropathy at the elbow.
Thirty-one patients (mean age 52.6, range 20-80), with clinically and electrically verified ulnar neuropathy at the elbow, were seen independently by a neurosurgeon and a physiotherapist. All tests were administered to all patients on each visit. Data collected included measures of sensory (monofilament, two-point discrimination, vibration) and motor function (grip, key-pinch, muscle atrophy), pain (visual analogue scale (VAS)) and impact on lifestyle (Levine's questionnaires (function status score - FSS, symptom severity score - SSS)), disability of the arm, shoulder and hand module (DASH) and patient-specific measures (PSM). Parametric and non-parametric correlation and factor analysis were done.
Outcome analysis was available for 63 patient visits, with follow-up obtained for 20 patients (mean 8.5 months). Lifestyle and pain instruments (FSS, SSS, DASH, PSM and VAS) all correlated well with each other (r> 0.6, p< .01). DASH was moderately to highly correlated to nine of the 11 measures. Some tests correlated poorly, for example, Semmes-Weinstein monofilament with other sensory measures and muscle atrophy with almost all measures. Factor analysis revealed that there are two principal factors, accounting for 77% of the variance. Factor 1 relates to impact on lifestyle and pain while Factor 2 relates to strength and function.
Intraclass measures, particularly ones assessing lifestyle and pain instruments are strongly correlated. Factor analysis revealed two principal factors that account for the majority of the variance; future studies with a larger sample size are needed to validate this analysis.
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