Study Shows Physical Therapy Could Be as Effective as Surgery For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Doctors frequently recommend surgery for patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, but that could change soon. According to a new study, physical therapy may work just as well for treating carpal tunnel syndrome as surgery.

In a study authored by Spanish professor of physical therapy Cesar Fernandez de las Penas, researchers discovered that physical therapy improved function in the wrist and hand and reduced pain as effectively as the most common surgical procedure for the condition. After one month, patients who underwent physical therapy reported better results than those who had surgery.

Physical Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

physical therapy carpal tunnel syndrome

“” flickr photo by handarmdoc shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

In the study noted above, de las Penas and his team followed 100 women from Madrid who were suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Half underwent surgery and the other half received physical therapy. The therapy patients received weekly half-hour manual therapy sessions. They were also instructed to perform neck-stretching exercises at home.

One month later, the physical therapy group reported greater pinch strength and greater daily function than the study participants who underwent surgery. All participants reported similar reductions in pain.

How Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is Treated

Manual therapy is often used by physical therapists when treating carpal tunnel syndrome. During manual therapy, therapists use their hands to work the neck and median nerve. They also work on the fingers, wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder.

Physical therapy for wrist pain may also include stretching and strengthening exercises, massage and other complementary treatments. At Denver Physical Medicine, we carefully examine each patient to determine the best course of treatment.

For people who want to escape the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome but would like to avoid the risks associated with surgery, physical therapy may provide an ideal alternative. To learn more about how physical therapy can help with your carpal tunnel syndrome, contact Denver Physical Medicine today.