Prognosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

By  , Expert Content
Jun 29, 2012

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common painful condition of the wrist. Severity of symptoms can range from a minor inconvenience to a disabling condition. The severity of condition is influenced by many factors including the cause, persistence and the individual characteristics of the patient.

Prognosis of CTS

Response to treatment: In many cases the symptoms of CTS are mild, and they usually don't last long. Sometimes the symptoms may resolve (disappear) on their own. With treatment most people having CTS recover completely and only about 1 per cent of people with carpal tunnel syndrome face permanent injury. You may be able to avoid getting reinjured by changing the way you make repetitive movements, the frequency and strength with which you  move, and the of time you taken for rest during work.

CTS in pregnancy and other conditions: CTS due to an underlying condition usually has good prognosis if the primary condition is treated properly. According to experts, proper treatment of underlying cause of CTS can often help reduce wrist swelling and resolve CTS symptoms. Similarly pregnancy-associated CTS generally has good prognosis. In most women, the symptoms resolve after the woman gives birth, as the swelling at the wrists subside.

Untreated CTS: In some people the prognosis is not so good especially in severe untreated cases of CTS. In these cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may suffer from atrophy leading to permanent loss of sensation. CTS may become so crippling in them that they are unable to do their jobs or even perform simple tasks at home.

Impact on work
: People with severe symptoms may be unable to perform ordinary tasks, such as driving a car or carrying groceries or practice their preferred sports and hobbies. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a major cause for time away from work according to studies. The average time away from work because of CTS is 28 days. If the person tries to work despite the disorder, it may put more stress on the wrists to compensate for the weakness and pain. In the long term, it may worsen the condition and impair work performance further. Eventually, the person may be forced to give up his or her livelihood.

Prognosis after surgery: Prognosis of people who have to undergo surgery for CTS is good. Most of them show improvement and about half consider the hand to be 'as good as new' after the operation. Most people get permanent relief from symptoms after carpal tunnel release surgery, and only a few continue to have residual numbness, pain, weakness, or stiffness. Recurrence of CTS after successful surgery is rare.

Psychological impact of CTS: Carpal tunnel syndrome can also have psychological impact on the person who is not able to use his or her hand, and also because of severe daily pain. They may become depressed and suffer from low self-esteem.


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