If you're asking, "Do I need carpal tunnel surgery?", most of the time, the simple answer is “No”. The general population usually thinks surgery is the only way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. But the medical community AND mounting data utterly contradicts the notion that we need carpal tunnel surgery for relieving carpal tunnel syndrome. Most of the reasons for performing surgery have been based on faulty or out-of-date research – including a mountain of unsatisfactory “real world” results reported by patients.
This article explains why doctors and patients should NOT rush to carpal tunnel surgery for hand pain and wrist pain when good, alternative, non-surgical therapies often work much better.
Which Is Better, Surgery or Non-Surgical Treatments?
The more relevant question should be, “Which option should I use?” that question has a definite answer with no ambiguity because The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that all non-surgical therapies should be used first to treat carpal tunnel syndrome; if all are ineffective, then surgery should be considered.
Then Why Do Doctors Say Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery Is Better?
Many doctors don’t heed the good advice from the NIH. They usually insist that the longer you wait, the more you invite nerve damage. But that’s actually not true (except in very extreme cases). There’s simply no clinical evidence to support that notion.
In actual fact, over 95% of people successfully treat their carpal tunnel syndrome on their own using simple, every-day alternatives like deep tissue massage. For the vast majority of these people the symptoms resolve completely and never return.
It All Comes Down To “Patient Satisfaction”
For years, doctors have insisted that carpal tunnel release surgery has a better “outcome” than non-surgical treatments. This is based on the fact that surgery may result in faster nerve conduction or a 2% increase in grip strength. However, pain relief is far better with deep tissue massage (nearly 100% effective against pain).
So are these measures like nerve conduction relevant to the patient? Do they actually mean anything in everyday life? Weighed against the pain, recovery time, failure rate, job loss, and expense of surgery, are these insignificant results worth surgery - in light of the success of deep tissue massage?
Which Has Higher “Patient Satisfaction”, Surgery Or Non-Surgical Treatments?”
A more meaningful way to measure differences of outcome is to ask, “What’s the “patient’s satisfaction”?
The answer to that question was comes both from a report published by Jarvik, et.al., in Lancet (2009) and a report published by the British Pain Society. It showed that patient satisfaction with surgery was at least similar, or greatly less than satisfaction with deep tissue massage therapy.
Combine these facts with the chances of the surgery not working, surgical trauma, surgical mishap, long recover time, infection, post-surgical pain, high expense, job loss, and disfigurement and scarring, and the comparison takes on a whole new meaning.
(Note that only half of people who have carpal tunnel surgery return to their jobs, but what is less clear is how much of a decrease in productivity they have. That's another factor in the "satisfaction" equation that's difficult to measure.)
What’s The Bottom Line?
In summary, studies clearly show that the overall results of non-surgical treatment like deep tissue massage are far better than surgery. That's because surgery doesn't address the root cause of the problem: tendon inflammation. To permanently alleviate such inflammation, merely removing pressure on the median nerve (like surgery attempts) is not enough. (And that's the major reason surgery fails so often.) Only deep tissue massage can alleviate the inflammation permanently because it drains fluid while also breaking the adhesions that cause the inflammation. You need such massage daily for 2-4 weeks from a trained therapist. Or you can use the Carpal Rx which is calibrated to perform the exact same massage automatically and in your own home.