Do you think it's true that getting back to work after carpal tunnel surgery is all a matter of attitude?
There is some evidence that mental health status and patient expectations are important factors. Patients who are anxious, depressed, or who catastrophize situations (see things in a negative perspective) are more likely to experience delays in recovery and return-to-work.
Studies show that younger patients who expect less time off were the first to return-to-work full-time and without restrictions. The conclusion of this was that early return-to-work after carpal tunnel surgery can be predicted by patient attitude and expectations.
The patients in the study had a small open incision surgery under local anesthesia to release pressure on the median nerve (the usual cause of carpal tunnel syndrome). Desk workers were able to return-to-work sooner than manual laborers. Forceful use of the hand in manual laborers was the likely reason nondesk workers experienced more time off from work and more work restrictions when they did return.
But the study was able to also show that individual patient beliefs, expectations, and psychologic factors played an important part, too. Patients who expected to take no time off and get back to work right away did, indeed, take fewer days off and returned-to-work sooner than those who were anxious, fearful, and who expected a slow recovery time.
Experts in this area say that surgeons can aid patients by offering preoperative counseling to influence expectations and perspective toward quick recovery and speedy return to full work duty. Patients should be told there may be a few days of discomfort but that return-to-work for the desk worker is safe.
Manual laborers can expect a slower time to return-to-work (up to one month minimum). They should avoid activities that place force on the hand and wrist. More work restrictions may also be recommended for the manual worker.
James Cowan, BA, et al. Determinants of Return to Work After Carpal Tunnel Release. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2012. Vol. 37A. No. 1. Pp. 18-27.
*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.