Results of Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Whether or not you’ll have good or bad results of carpal tunnel surgery depends on many factors. In the end, the best definition of a good result is how satisfied you are with your outcome. Usually, this is not an immediate conclusion. Indeed, most patients need 3 – 12 months after the surgery to definitively conclude if their final results turned out good or bad.
What determines successful results of carpal tunnel surgery?
Do you know what surgical “success” means? In fact, there’s no consistent definition because it depends on who you ask.
For instance, if you ask a hand surgeon, they’ll say the surgery was successful if they cut the transverse carpal ligament in half. Indeed, on rare occasion the ligament is not completely cut in half. Thus, that constitutes a surgical failure. Surgeons make a complete cut about 98% of the time. Therefore, that’s a 98% success rate of the surgery.
In contrast, ask a patient what success means, and you’ll get a completely different definition. Usually, it relates to the patient’s “satisfaction” with their final results. As a matter of fact, when surveyed, only about half of carpal tunnel patients are satisfied with their surgical results by the year 2. Therefore, that’s a 50% success rate of the surgery.
And that’s a big difference in definitions! Perhaps the fairest (and most easily measured) definition of surgical “failure” is the patient’s ultimate overall assessment. Indeed, most pain specialists agree a surgical “failure” is when the patient’s carpal tunnel symptoms don’t resolve well enough by 3 months after surgery. Other measures use the 12 or 24 month mark.
Ways carpal tunnel surgery can fail
There are numerous reasons carpal tunnel release surgery can fail. They include:
- Incomplete transverse ligament cut due to surgeon error
- Nerve damage due to surgeon error
- Blood vessel damage due to surgeon error
- Symptoms don’t resolve for unknown reasons
- Immediate return of symptoms for unknown reasons
- Symptoms worsen for unknown reasons
When the surgery fails there are few options left. Less than 40% of patients return for another carpal tunnel surgery, called revision surgery. Also, by any measure used, the failure rate of a revision surgery is usually higher than the first surgery.
Generally, when surgery fails, the patient is back to square one again. But in many ways, the problem is worse.
- There’s an added financial burden from the first surgery
- The patient lost job time and probably wages
- Pain and suffering continues
- The experience takes an emotional toll
Thus, considering a second carpal tunnel surgery after the failed one creates a real dilemma.
When results of carpal tunnel surgery see symptoms return
Approximately 27% of patients who have carpal tunnel release surgery have symptoms initially resolve. However, symptoms then return within 2 years. Again, surgeons don’t’ consider this a “failed surgery”, especially since symptoms resolved immediately after the procedure.
This is emotionally draining because patients believed the problems would be a thing of the past after surgery. Now they have to re-visit the problem again, and consider surgery a second time. Thus, the decision to have another surgery is both traumatic and financially burdensome.
When symptoms happen on the other hand
Few doctors tell their patients a disturbing statistic. That is, over 80% of carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers who have symptoms on one hand will eventually get them on the other hand. This is bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Thus, for 8 out of 10 patients, whatever “price” they pay for one hand doubles by having it on the other hand. Therefore, do you roll the dice? Will the results of carpal tunnel surgery on the first hand be similar on the other hand?
The need for surgery on the other hand is just another factor added to the physical and emotional pain and suffering. Moreover, this price isn’t easy to quantify because it’s not the same from person to person.
Simply put, no one can easily calculate what carpal tunnel surgery will cost YOU if it fails. The emotional toll of pain and suffering is different for everyone and their individual situations in life.
Insurance reimbursement nightmares
Having the hand surgery is one thing; getting it paid for is another. The American Journal of Occupational Health found 79% of carpal tunnel surgery claims were initially rejected by workers’ compensation underwriters. Also, the average time from filing a claim to obtaining workers’ compensation approval for surgery was 11 months.
This delay, and the associated paperwork, adds additional stress to the financial and emotional stability of the patient and their family. So what happens if the surgery fails? Generally, every difficult challenge the patient had to endure must be repeated.
The term “surgical failure” has a few definitions. Perhaps the most reliable (and ultimately the only one that really counts) is patient satisfaction. About half of patients are satisfied with their results of carpal tunnel surgery by 2 years. Thus, it’s important to consider what might happen if the surgery fails.
Two 15 minute Carpal Rx treatments
for 30 days cures symptoms in
97% of carpal tunnel patients.
About 15 years ago my wife was waking up during the wee hours screaming from carpal tunnel pain.
This isn’t an exaggerating. She’d literally scream from the pain shooting up through her wrist and into her shoulder. The poor thing still shudders when she thinks about it.
I knew she had carpal tunnel syndrome. And being a physiologist, I knew how to treat her. I’m skilled in a physical therapy technique called myofascial release. It’s a type of massage with an excellent track record for completely curing carpal tunnel symptoms.
So I’d massage her arm until the pain subsided and we could both go back to sleep. But her pain was so severe that she insisted on wanting surgery. It was so bad that she was afraid to go sleep at night.
I was dead-set against surgery because I knew myofascial release was a much better option. I made a bargain with her. Give me 30 days to cure her symptoms using massage and if it didn’t work – I’d go along with the surgery.
She agreed and I got busy in the lab. I hodgepodged together the first Carpal Rx prototype. Using it before bed for 15 minutes, she was able to sleep through the night by the 2nd day.
Carpal Rx, born out of love & compassion.
Dr. Z invented Carpal Rx to cure his wife’s symptoms so she didn’t have to undergo surgery.