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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Surgery is Most Effective Treatment for Severe Carpal Tunnel

By December 21, 2010

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Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and fingers. Depending on the severity of symptoms, different treatments may be offered including:

A recent study has found evidence that surgery is the most effective treatment for severe carpal tunnel syndrome. Patients who underwent surgery had less pain and less need for continued treatment. While nonsurgical treatments are effective for mild and moderate symptoms, surgery may be considered for treatment of severe carpal tunnel.


Carpal Tunnel Surgery Relieves More Symptoms Than Splinting

Image © Medical Multimedia Group

May 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm
(1) Joshua Tucker says:

The title of your post is inaccurate and misleading.

The article you use as reference only compares surgery to splinting.

It says ““The results suggest that surgical treatment is probably better than splinting, but it is unclear whether it is better than steroid injection,” said lead author Renato Verdugo, M.D., of the University of Chile in Santiago.

It doesn’t even make the case the surgery -is- better than splinting, it just says it ‘probably’ is.

It seems that your resource article has no actual relevance to your post.

So when you title your blog post as surgery being the most effective, you are way off base.

June 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(2) orthopedics says:

Thank you for your comments.

I disagree that the title misrepresents the findings of the Cochrane Review. While you need access to Cochrane for the complete article, you can find the abstract online.

I will quote the conclusion, “Surgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome relieves symptoms significantly better than splinting.”

The article acknowledges that it does not compare to steroid injection. While non-operative treatments are appropriate, the study makes a compelling argument that surgery may be more effective treatment for severe symptoms.


Jonathan Cluett, M.D.
Orthopedics Guide
About.com | Guidance. Not Guesswork.

January 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm
(3) Orthopedic and Spine Institute says:

I agree that Surgery is Most Effective Treatment for Severe Carpal Tunnel

March 22, 2011 at 3:25 am
(4) anohiogirl says:

Thank you for this article and information. I am just preparing for carpal tunnel surgeries on both hands. I am 58 years old and this has been some of the worst pain I have ever had. I just had Nerve conduction studies and EMGs on both hands and the Dr. said i have severe carpal tunnel with a lot of nerve death.. BUT, he also said something else is wrong in my left hand. He doesn’t know if maybe there is a cyst or what is going on and he recommended imaging of that hand before surgery. Also, he seemed concerned that my left hand tested much worse than my right when my left is my non-dominant hand. He said thats very unusual. is that also your experience? Oh well, I will just be so happy to get these surgeries over and be able to actually sleep again…:)

May 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm
(5) David says:

I injured my arm and hand about 5 months ago. My arm has severe pain at the elbow which has never gone away. I had numbness in the fingers, first the pinky and ring finger from about a month after the injury. Then the hand itself became numb as time went on. As or now I have numbness in all four fingers and the thumb for most of the day, I have one spot in the forearm that is numb always. This spot is at the wrist on the pinky side and is swollen. I also have a swollen spot on top of the hand below the pinky that is swollen and numb. I have spasms occasionally. I have had several injections, with no result. Had an MRI at the elbow which showed no damage and an EMG that showed severe carpal tunnel. Now surgery is recommended, but what of the other symptoms?

December 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm
(6) Jani zeilenga says:

Had sugary for severe carpel tunnel 2 months ago.

Since then my thumb pad is numb all the way to base of thumb.

I feel tingling in that area. Have been told this is nerve regrowth.

Is this true?

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