Does carpal tunnel surgery cure arthritis?
Many people with hand and wrist arthritis also have carpal tunnel syndrome. You may wonder if surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome relieves the pain of arthritis.
The answer is no.
Carpal tunnel release surgery relieves pressure on the median nerve, which allows the nerve to recover its blood flow. Any pain relieved by carpal tunnel release surgery was coming from the nerve being pinched, or compressed in the carpal tunnel. Any pain coming from arthritis (in a joint, by definition) will not be relieved by carpal tunnel release surgery.
Sometimes patients with arthritis can have bone spurs that may crowd the contents of the carpal tunnel (median nerve and finger flexor tendons). If the bone spurs are removed in an arthritis-treating surgery, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may be improved, but it doesn’t work the other way around.
Pain relief from arthritis comes from an operation on an arthritic joint. Carpal tunnel release is a surgery on an anatomic compartment containing a nerve and nine tendons, not a joint.
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