The Journal of Pain is the peer-review publication of the American Pain Society.
A multicenter team of Spanish researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial to compare the one-year effectiveness of manual physical therapies, including desensitization maneuvers of the central nervous system, and surgery in patients with CTS. CTS surgery has the highest utilization rate among upper extremity procedures performed.
CTS is a pain disorder in the upper extremity caused by compression of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel. Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 6 to 11 percent, and six-year cumulative lost income per patient ranges from $45,000 to $89,000, according to the study. Treatment can be conservative or surgical, but scientific evidence for each therapeutic option is conflicting.
For the study, 120 women with CTS were randomized in two groups: treatment with physical therapy and treatment with surgery. At 12 months, 92 percent of the study participants completed the follow-up.
The researchers found that patients who had surgery and those treated with physical therapy showed similar outcomes for pain relief and function at six months and 12 months. However, patients assigned to physical therapy experienced significantly greater relief of symptoms and improvements in hand function at one and three months.
Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.