The purpose of this randomized trial was to assess the clinical evolution after carpal tunnel release in subjects with long-term carpal tunnel syndrome. The evaluation criteria were symptom occurrence, motor performance, and delay in returning to work. A total of 100 subjects were assessed four times (prior to surgery, and 12 days, 1 month, and 3 months after surgery) using the Boston carpal tunnel questionnaire, the nine-hole peg test (NHPT), and the Jebsen-Taylor test (JTT). Subjects were randomized to a rehabilitation program or to a progressive home exercise program. No difference in symptom occurrence between the two groups was detected after 1 and 3 months. One month after surgery, only patients in the first group showed motor dexterity improvement according to NHPT and JTT scores. At the 3-month follow-up, the two groups did not differ but the group undergoing rehabilitation showed a shorter return-to-work interval. A rehabilitation approach after hand surgery is clinically relevant to accelerate recovery but neither modifies functional recovery nor reduces symptom occurrence.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.