Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Recur?

Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Recur?
Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Recur?

After conservative therapies, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms could recur. Furthermore, even though surgery is thought of as a cure, results aren't usually long-lasting. 

One kind of pressure on the median nerve inside your wrist is called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Numbness, tingling, and discomfort that sometimes spreads to your arm in addition to your hand and fingers are some of the typical symptoms.

A somewhat prevalent illness, CTS affects up to 5% of the US population. Usually, the symptoms get worse with time, and you can notice that they get worse at night. 

Treatment choices are based on the severity of CTS. A doctor can advise you to modify your activities or try home remedies for mild cases. 

Surgery or medical intervention may be necessary for severe CTS. However, some people continue to have CTS after receiving treatment. Find out more about the frequency and reasons of CTS recurrence.

Can carpal tunnel syndrome come back?

90% of cases of neuropathy affecting a single nerve are thought to be caused by CTS, which is a relatively prevalent disorder.

Recurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome is less prevalent and regarded as uncommon. Reoccurring CTS may require surgery.

If CTS symptoms recur soon after therapy, it may indicate that the illness was never properly treated in the first place. It's easy to confuse symptom improvement for the absence of CTS symptoms because the disorder generates gradual symptoms that can come and go.

CTS symptoms typically start mildly before becoming more frequent and severe. For this reason, it's critical to obtain a precise diagnosis.

To help stop the condition's progression and ease symptoms, the majority of CTS sufferers eventually require medical attention.

Can carpal tunnel come back after conservative treatment?

Combinations of the following may be used as a conservative treatment for CTS:
  • putting on a wrist brace at night for a maximum of six weeks
  • using ice packs to ease discomfort
  • changing some tasks, like typing, using power tools, and playing an instrument
  • alternating periods of rest with hand exercises to help improve mobility and lessen pain
  • using over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen
Your doctor could advise steroid injections if these approaches are ineffective in treating your symptoms. These aren't regarded as a remedy, though. You could require another steroid injection if your CTS symptoms return after a few months.

Moreover, a doctor may recommend oral steroids for ten to fourteen days.

Can carpal tunnel return after surgery?

Surgery may be necessary in more severe cases of CTS if conservative measures fail to improve the condition. Cutting a thick ligament (tissue) beneath your skin is part of the surgery known as carpal tunnel release, which relieves pressure on the median nerve and its associated symptoms.

Surgery is frequently a long-term cure for CTS. Following the treatment, your hand may not fully recover for up to a month, and you may have some hand pain for a few weeks or months.

Additionally, pain from the surgery itself is a possibility. This may not necessarily indicate that the surgery was unsuccessful; rather, it may indicate that the median nerve is starting to receive more blood flow again.

Surgery might not always completely treat CTS, though, and this could result in persistent discomfort. In some cases, revision surgery might be necessary.

Scar tissue that may form along the carpal tunnel is yet another factor that could be causing postoperative pain. These signs and symptoms resemble those of CTS.

What are the symptoms of failed carpal tunnel surgery?

Similar symptoms to those of CTS may indicate a failed carpal tunnel surgery. After typing, manipulating knobs, or performing other daily tasks, you might experience pain. Moreover, tingling and numbness could reappear.

Depending on how serious your carpal tunnel syndrome was in the first place, your recovery from surgery may not go as planned.

Following surgery, you can have a complete sensation in your hand if you have mild CTS. However, if your CTS is more severe, it can take six to twelve months for your tingling and numbness to go away.

As a side effect of any kind of surgery, including carpal tunnel operations, permanent nerve damage can also occur. Rather than being the result of a return of CTS, ongoing nerve problems could be caused by new nerve injury.

Carpal tunnel recurrence rate

In general, CTS rarely reappears following surgery.

Even up to five years following therapy, some data indicates that up to one-third of CTS patients may still have recurrent symptoms. Those who have had carpal tunnel surgery in the past are included in this.

The prognosis for CTS is generally good as long as the illness is identified and treated promptly, despite these numbers.

When to contact a doctor

See a physician for an assessment if you think you may have CTS. A physician can assess the severity of your ailment and prescribe the best course of action for therapy to help avoid complications with the aid of an accurate diagnosis.

Additionally, get in touch with a physician if your CTS symptoms are getting worse, particularly if you've already had surgery or other forms of treatment for the condition.

After having carpal tunnel surgery, if your hand weakness or pain persists after two months, schedule an assessment with a physician. Based on their findings, they might advise you to consult a hand specialist.

If your health has not improved despite your doctor's advised home therapies, you should think about seeking medical attention. If CTS is not treated, nerve function may be lost, resulting in chronic symptoms.

Can you prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from recurring?

Although it's unclear if you can stop CTS from recurring, you can improve the situation by supporting the healing process. Your physician will advise you to:
  • put on a splint for a few weeks following surgery.
  • activities that need you to repeatedly bend or extend your wrists or hands should be modified.
  • use the afflicted hand just for simple tasks.
  • participate in physical therapy
  • participate in occupational therapy


Consider sharing the following information about recurrent episodes of CTS with a doctor, regardless of whether you have just had treatment for the condition or have not yet received a diagnosis.

What causes carpal tunnel to return?

Recurrent tenosynovitis, fibrous growth, and inadequate TCL release are common reasons for recurrent CTS. Although there is a chance of improvement in many patients, the prognosis for re-exploration is not as good as it was for the first CTR.

What are the odds of getting carpal tunnel twice?

However, 3% to 25% of patients who have surgical treatment experience a persistent or recurrent set of symptoms. The incomplete transverse carpal ligament transection or the development of scar tissue are thought to be the causes of surgical treatment failure in cases of persistent or recurrent CTS.

When is it too late for carpal tunnel surgery?

While treating carpal tunnel syndrome can be more challenging if you've had symptoms for a while, it's typically never too late to get treatment and resume your normal ability to write and use your hands comfortably. Further details regarding carpal tunnel syndrome are provided below.

What two conditions are often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome?

Even though Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common ailment, it's important to remember that other illnesses might create similar hand-related symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis and tendinitis are two illnesses that are frequently misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a prevalent ailment linked to numerous risk factors. Conservative therapy may aid in healing in milder situations. However, surgery can be required in extreme or persistent situations.

It is important to address underlying risk factors as part of the treatment of CTS. It is more likely that mild to moderate symptoms will get better. Years later, severe symptoms that need surgery could return.

See a physician for a check-up if you have a history of CTS and your symptoms have returned after therapy.

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