Do outcomes justify carpal tunnel surgery?

Evidence exists that patients who undergo surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome are likely to fare better than those who do not. But knowledge about the disease process over the long term is relatively scarce, and questions remain about the lasting benefits of surgical and nonsurgical treatments.

University of Maryland School of Medicine Assistant Professor Raymond A. Pensy, MD, and his coauthors addressed that issue by comparing long-term results (at 6 years) for patients who did or did not undergo surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. They presented their results at the 2010 American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) annual meeting.

Both groups of patients were participants in the same original study, which sought to determine the effect of symptom duration and age on the outcome of carpal tunnel surgery. Of the 800 patients enrolled, 90 did not proceed to surgery for a variety of reasons, such as apprehension, resolution of symptoms, and fear of job loss.

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