Peter Amadio, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hand surgeon
Well, most people are improved after carpal tunnel surgery. About 90 percent of the people who have carpal tunnel surgery are happy that they had the surgery. That doesn’t mean that you’re normal, though, after the surgery. Probably less than half of people who have carpal tunnel surgery really feel that their hands have returned to normal afterward.
Usually, there’s some tenderness that stays in the palm, some weakness that remains in your gripping strength or some lack of endurance, and there may still be some numbness or tingling in the fingers. So, the results are good and they’re fairly predictable, but the typical result is not a normal hand.
The long-term results after carpal tunnel surgery are usually pretty good. The risk of re-operation is very small. Even at the most extreme, it’s probably less than (a) 5 percent chance that you might have to have the operation done over again. So usually the result is good from that regard, that additional surgery isn’t likely to be necessary.
However, it’s important to remember that most people who have carpal tunnel syndrome, if you ask them closely, will say that they do have some residual problems in that hand. The hand is not perfectly, completely normal like it was when they were younger and healthier. There might be some tenderness in the palm, there might still be some numbness or tingling in the fingers with activities, there might be some weakness of grip or some easier fatigue ability in that hand, so it’s important to remember that the result is not a perfectly normal hand as if nothing were ever wrong with it.
But usually it’s a much improved hand with much less in the way of numbness and tingling, a stronger grip, better dexterity and a better ability to do everyday activities.