My mother has a million and one reasons why she can't have surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome. None of them really seem to add up to me. How can we tell if she's just afraid to have surgery or if there's some other reason for her hesitation?
You may have to ask some indirect questions to find out more about what's on your mother's mind. Sometimes patients don't really know themselves. There may be some fear about the results, cosmetic appearance, risks, loss of function during the recovery period, and inability to care for herself or other family members after surgery.
Sometimes there are financial concerns that patients don't feel free to share with close family members. Your mother may not want to worry you or burden you with her financial problems. Some patients are convinced that surgery won't help them. In their minds, there's no sense even scheduling an operation. Others make the appointment but end up canceling for any number of reasons.
If your mother hasn't had at least six to eight weeks of conservative care, this might be a good way to approach treatment. At least she would have a chance to try a nonoperative approach and with a little more time, her symptoms may improve. In fact, a small study of Korean women was recently published showing that the number one reason women who were scheduled to have surgery cancelled the surgery was because their symptoms got better.
Since this is not a life-threatening illness, your mother may have some time to decide for herself what's best. You may even consider asking her straight out what her hesitations are and/or what's holding her back. Don't be surprised if she skirts the issue. If she doesn't really know or doesn't feel comfortable sharing her reasons, it may be best to give her some time to sort through the problem on her own.
Hyun Sik Gong, MD, PhD, et al. Factors Affecting Willingness to Undergo Carpal Tunnel Release. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. September 2009. Vol. 91A. No. 9. Pp. 2130-2136.
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