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Non-surgical management of carpal tunnel syndrome

...do education, splinting and exercises from a physiotherapist improve outcomes?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve-entrapment problem that can cause pain, paraesthesia and sometimes weakness, typically in the region of the hand supplied by the median nerve.

Surgery is often recommended. In fact, many developed countries have waiting times for carpal tunnel surgery that extend over months and in some cases years.

The demand for carpal tunnel surgery is predicted to double over the next decade, which poses a serious challenge for health systems.

After 6 weeks, 20% of the treatment group but only 4% of the control group rated their condition as improved. The intervention was also estimated to be beneficial on some measures of satisfaction, symptom severity and functional limitation. By 24 weeks, 41% of people in the treatment group decided not to progress to surgey, compared to only 20% in the control group.

The authors recommend that clinicians discuss these results with each individual patient; whether they progress to surgery or not, patients may still feel that it is worth undertaking the exercises and splinting to get some reprieve from their symptoms.

> From: Lewis, J Physiother 66 (2020) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the online summary.

Want to read deeper into this topic? You can find the free full text version of this article published in Journal of Physiotherapy and the education material here!

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