Question:Just because I'm 72-years old, my doctor doesn't think carpal tunnel surgery will help me. What does age have to do with it?
Some hand surgeons have found that primary care doctors are less likely to refer older patients for carpal tunnel surgery. This may occur because some studies show older patients have a poorer recovery after nerve injury and repair compared to younger patients. The dividing line in terms of age is usually younger than 65 versus 65 and older.
Older adults tend to have slower nerve conduction compared to younger adults. There may be a link between the speed that messages move along nerves and the ability to recover after an operation.
A recent study may have put this theory to rest. It showed an 83 percent satisfaction rate after carpal tunnel release surgery in a group of adults 65 years and older. Painful symptoms were much improved. Grip and pinch strength and overall hand function were also much better.
There may be some specific health-related reasons for your doctor's judgment about your case. Ask for a more detailed explanation. If you're still wondering, you may want to get a second opinion.Robert A. Weber, MD, and Malcolm J. Rude, MD. Clinical Outcomes of Carpal Tunnel Release in Patients 65 and Older. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2005. Vol. 30A. No. 1. Pp. 75-80.
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