Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Physical Therapy or Surgery?

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Mar;47(3):162. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2017.0503.


Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the wrist and hand. Nearly 50% of all work-related injuries are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, and people with this injury are more likely to miss work because of it. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with physical therapy or surgery. Although surgery may be considered when the symptoms are severe, more than a third of patients do not return to work within 8 weeks after an operation. Based on the potential side effects and risks of surgery, patients often ask if they might try physical therapy first. An article in the March 2017 issue of JOSPT assesses the effectiveness of therapy and surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(3):162. doi:10.2519/jospt.2017.0503.

Keywords: carpal tunnel syndrome; manual therapy; physical therapy; surgery; upper extremity; wrist.

Publication types

  • Patient Education Handout

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / rehabilitation*
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations*
  • Occupational Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Occupational Injuries / surgery
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / rehabilitation
  • Pain / surgery
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors