A Light at the End of the Carpal Tunnel
WebMD News Archive
"The surgery is a very minor procedure and the results are usually
spectacular. If you don't get a good result from surgery, then the diagnosis
may have been wrong, or else the patient waited too long, and nerve damage has
already occurred," says Jeffrey Malka, MD, associate professor at
Georgetown University and chairman of the department of orthopaedic surgery at
Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
"But carpal tunnel is very variable and you can't lump all cases
together," Malka says. "You have to take into account the specific
patient and what the symptoms are. You want to do the least you can do to
benefit the person in the best way." Malka reviewed the study for
"Surgical treatment is superior to any other treatment, across the
board. But if a person has only minimal symptoms, they may be able to avoid it,
or at least delay surgery," says Gregory Hanker, MD. "If they have
moderate to severe symptoms, the vast majority of people who get [conservative
treatment] will worsen over time. Those people almost always need surgery."
Hanker, who also reviewed the study for WebMD, is a hand surgeon and assistant
clinical professor at the University of Southern California.
Hanker says the recurrence rate is low following surgery, but, most
important, patients need to be educated about the nature of disease. "You
want to educate them how to lessen stress on their hands. Basically, it's
common sense. Avoid those things that hurt, do those things that
This study was sponsored by the Navy's Chief Bureau of Medicine and
- The idea that carpal tunnel syndrome is a permanent disability that cannot
be reversed may be a myth, according to a new study.
- Most carpal tunnel patients who are treated are able to return to their
jobs and resume a normal work capacity, even if modifications are
- Those who undergo a surgical procedure are more likely to have their
symptoms resolved compared to those who undergo other treatments, and the
recurrence rate is low.