Patient-reported outcomes after open carpal tunnel release using a standard protocol with 1 hand therapy visit

Erin M. Mack, Nancy J. Callinan, Megan Reams, Deborah C. Bohn, Terese L. Chmielewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Study Design Retrospective case series. Introduction Open carpal tunnel release (OCTR) is a common treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, but there is no consensus on the number of hand therapy visits needed to achieve optimal patient outcomes. Purpose of the Study The purpose is to examine changes in patient-reported symptoms and function over a 12-week period after OCTR with 1 postoperative hand therapy visit. Methods Eligible subjects were consecutive patients treated with a standard OCTR protocol by a fellowship trained hand surgeon that included 1 hand therapy visit at 10-14 days postoperatively. Patients were excluded from participation if they had additional surgery at the time of OCTR, had another upper extremity diagnosis that required therapeutic intervention, or received more or less than 1 visit of hand therapy. Responses on the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) were collected at preoperative and 3 postoperative time points: at the hand therapy visit, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. Change over time in the BCTQ Symptom Severity Scale and Functional Status Scale was assessed. Results A total of 134 patients who were treated with the standard protocol had a complete BCTQ data set. Both BCTQ scales showed significant improvement over time. The Symptom Severity Scale showed significant improvement by the hand therapy visit at 10-14 days postoperatively, whereas significant improvement on the Functional Status Scale did not occur until 6 weeks postoperatively. The magnitude of change from preoperative to 12 weeks postoperative was 1.51 points on the Symptom Severity Scale and 0.91 points on the Functional Status Scale. Complication rates were low with an incidence of 13% for pillar pain and palm pain combined. Conclusions Patient-reported symptoms and function improved significantly up to 12 weeks after OCTR. Moreover, there was a low incidence of pillar and palm pain. In a retrospective review of patients with a favorable prognosis based on having no need for extra surgical procedures or additional therapy visits, one therapy visit associated with improvements in symptoms and function, a low incidence of pillar/palm pain and favorable 12-weeks outcomes. There appears to be a subset of less complicated patients for whom one visit can allow for favorable outcomes. Level of Evidence 2B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-64
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Carpal tunnel outcomes
  • Carpal tunnel release
  • Rehabilitation after carpal tunnel release
  • Therapy for carpal tunnel


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