Practice patterns in the conservative treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome: Survey results from members of the American Society of Hand Therapy

J Hand Ther. 2020 Jul-Sep;33(3):346-353. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2019.03.003. Epub 2019 Apr 5.


Study design: A cross-sectional descriptive design was used.

Introduction: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a complex combination of symptoms resulting from compression of the median nerve within the carpal tunnel. A study that compares the conservative interventions identified in the literature with the actual conservative interventions being implemented by therapists for the treatment of CTS is not presently available.

Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study was to examine conservative interventions for CTS as reported by certified hand therapists (CHTs) within various clinical settings. The study also aimed to identify the decision-making process for the selection of CTS interventions.

Method: CHT members of the American Society of Hand Therapists were surveyed electronically to obtain quantitative data.

Results: Patient education, nocturnal orthosis, and ergonomic modifications ranked among the top conservative interventions utilized for CTS, whereas treatments such as magnet therapy, C-TRAC, and heating lamps ranked among the least utilized interventions. When selecting interventions, clinical expertise, research evidence, and patient preferences were all highly valued considerations for CHT.

Discussion: Our study offers a unique summary of CHT practice patterns for CTS interventions and the associated decision-making processes. It compares findings with existing literature on this topic, offering researchers and clinicians a glimpse of the CTS practice trends.

Conclusion: This study may serve to prioritize future research studies based on the prevalence of intervention usage among the experts. It also serves as a guide to those seeking to understand the most common interventions utilized for conservative CTS treatment.

Keywords: Carpal tunnel syndrome; Certified hand therapist; Conservative management.

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Conservative Treatment*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States