Change in carpal arch width (CAW) is associated with wrist movement, carpal tunnel release, or therapeutic tunnel manipulation. This study investigated the angular rotations of the distal carpal joints as the CAW was adjusted. The CAW was narrowed and widened by 2 and 4 mm in seven cadaveric specimens while the bone positions were tracked by a marker-based motion capture system. The joints mainly pronated during CAW narrowing and supinated during widening. Ranges of motion about the pronation axis for the hamate-capitate (H-C), capitate-trapezoid (C-Td), and trapezoid-trapezium (Td-Tm) joints were 8.1 ± 2.3 deg, 5.3 ± 1.3 deg, and 5.5 ± 3.5 deg, respectively. Differences between the angular rotations of the joints were found at ΔCAW = −4 mm about the pronation and ulnar-deviation axes. For the pronation axis, angular rotations of the H-C joint were larger than that of the C-Td and Td-Tm joints. Statistical interactions among the factors of joint, rotation axis, and ΔCAW indicated complex joint motion patterns. The complex three-dimensional motion of the bones can be attributed to several anatomical constraints such as bone arrangement, ligament attachments, and articular congruence. The results of this study provide insight into the mechanisms of carpal tunnel adaptations in response to biomechanical alterations of the structural components.

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