When Should I Consider Surgery for My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

When Should I Consider Surgery for My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Up to 5% of American adults have carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain, numbness, and weakness in your wrist and hand. It can make everyday tasks extremely painful, from picking up objects to typing at work.

Non-surgical treatment can effectively manage symptoms, but when is the right time to consider carpal tunnel surgery? As a leading carpal tunnel release surgeon in Fort Worth, Texas, Walter D. Gracia, MD, PA, can help you decide.

He specializes in the Brown Technique, and he’s helped people find relief from carpal tunnel pain for more than 17 years. Here’s what you need to know about treating carpal tunnel syndrome.

Try non-surgical carpal tunnel treatment first 

Before considering surgery, Dr. Gracia and our team recommend exploring non-surgical treatment to alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms. Your options can include:

Wrist splinting

Wearing a wrist splint at night or during activities that aggravate your symptoms helps keep your wrist neutral, reducing pressure on your median nerve.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can temporarily relieve pain and inflammation. In more severe cases, corticosteroid injections can provide more powerful short-term relief by reducing inflammation around your median nerve.

Physical therapy

Specific exercises and stretches can help improve joint flexibility, strengthening your wrist and hand muscles to reduce painful carpal tunnel symptoms.

Activity modification

If specific activities worsen your carpal tunnel symptoms, Dr. Gracia may suggest modifying those activities or taking more frequent breaks to reduce stress on your wrist.

Signs it’s time to consider carpal tunnel surgery

Many people find that a combination of non-surgical treatments provides much-needed relief from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. But if you’ve exhausted your non-surgical options or your symptoms significantly impact your quality of life, surgery might be a good option.

Dr. Gracia might recommend carpal tunnel release surgery if you have the following:

Persistent (or recurring) symptoms

If your symptoms continue or worsen despite non-surgical treatment and your pain lasts for longer than six months, we might recommend surgery. Additionally, some people experience recurrent symptoms after initial relief from non-surgical treatments. If this is your experience, surgery could be an effective long-term solution.

Nerve damage

Dr. Gracia may recommend nerve conduction studies or electromyography (EMG) to evaluate your condition. If there is evidence of nerve damage or muscle weakness following these tests, surgical intervention can help prevent further nerve deterioration.

Progressive loss of hand function

Severe carpal tunnel syndrome can cause increasing pain, numbness, and functional impairment. If your condition severely impairs your hand function, makes it difficult to perform routine tasks, or affects your job, surgery could restore better functionality.

What to expect with surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel release is an effective way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly in cases where conservative treatment isn’t ineffective. The procedure involves relieving pressure on your median nerve by dividing the transverse carpal ligament, which forms the roof of your carpal tunnel.

Dr. Gracia performs endoscopic carpal tunnel release, a minimally invasive approach to release your transverse carpal ligament and create space within your carpal tunnel. It’s an outpatient procedure so you can go home the same day.

After surgery, you can expect to experience relief from your symptoms and improved hand function within a few weeks to months. We may prescribe physical therapy and hand exercises to help restore strength, flexibility, and coordination in your wrist and hand.

If you’re dealing with carpal tunnel pain and conservative treatment isn’t making a difference, it might be time to consider surgery. Schedule a surgical consultation with Dr. Gracia and our team to learn more about your options. 

Call our office at 817-336-9450 or request an appointment online to get started.

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