Extracorporeal shock wave therapy in pillar pain after carpal tunnel release: a preliminary study

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2011 Oct;37(10):1603-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


"Pillar pain" is a relatively frequent complication after surgical release of the median nerve at the wrist. Its etiology still remains unknown although several studies highlight a neurogenic inflammation as a possible cause. Pillar pain treatment usually includes rest, bracing and physiotherapy, although a significant number of patients still complain of painful symptoms two or even three years after surgery. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of low-energy, flux density-focused extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in the treatment of pillar pain. We treated 40 consecutive patients with ESWT who had pillar pain for at least six months after carpal tunnel release surgery, and to our knowledge, this is the first study that describes the use of ESWT for treating this condition. Our results show that in all of the treated patients, there was a marked improvement: the mean visual analogue scale (VAS) score decreased from 6.18 (±1.02) to 0.44 (±0.63) 120 d after treatment, and redness and swelling of the surgical scar had also decreased significantly.

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / surgery*
  • Female
  • High-Energy Shock Waves / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome