What will happen if carpal tunnel syndrome is not treated?
If carpal tunnel syndrome is not treated, it will usually get worse to where you have constant numbness or tingling, and eventually there will be irreversible nerve damage that will disrupt your hand function. Fortunately, this is very rare, as you have to neglect your carpal tunnel syndrome for a very long time before irreversible damage starts. As an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs, I rarely see those who have let their carpal tunnel syndrome go this long, although it does happen.
Does carpal tunnel get worse if left untreated?
Usually carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse if it is left untreated. The symptoms may start as occasional numbness or tingling at night, and then progress into constant numbness and tingling with gradual loss of hand function. Carpal tunnel syndrome is rated as mild, moderate, or severe. However, everyone is different and it progresses faster in some than in others.
How do you know if your carpal tunnel is severe?
You can know definitively if your carpal tunnel syndrome is severe by nerve conduction studies that measure how badly the nerve is injured, and if it has started to affect the associated hand muscles. The type of doctor that does this is a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. The other clinical signs that you will likely have are constant numbness + tingling, and decreased muscle mass around your thumb.
Can you fix carpal tunnel without surgery?
Fortunately, you can fix carpal tunnel syndrome without surgery. Most cases of mild carpal tunnel syndrome, and some cases of moderate carpal tunnel syndrome can be fixed without surgery. The best treatment is to wear a wrist splint at night, which prevents your nerve from being compressed while you are sleeping and unable to control your posture. If the night splinting does not work, then sometimes physical therapy for nerve gliding exercises can help, along with a steroid injection to the carpal tunnel. If you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome, or moderate carpal tunnel syndrome that has not improved with treatment, surgery is your best option.
I hope I was able to answer some of your questions about what happens if carpal tunnel is not treated. If you would like me to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome, contact us below to make an appointment if you are in the Colorado Springs area. I also am available for virtual consults.