What Happens if You Don't Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Many people suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. But what happens if they don't get a solution? The answer is in this article.
What Happens if You Don't Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Sometimes, due to lack of knowledge, discomfort in the wrists or hands may be overlooked until it becomes serious. This isn’t good, and, in this article, we’ll see what happens if you don’t treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

This syndrome affects the median nerve of the wrist, which permits hand movement. What this condition usually causes is pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling. If you don’t treat carpal tunnel syndrome these symptoms will worsen to the point of causing loss of mobility.

When we make the same repetitive movement with the hand and wrist, this syndrome can appear. For example, it’s common in people who write a lot.

The stages of carpal tunnel syndrome


Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is irritated.

If you don’t treat carpal tunnel syndrome, it’ll just get worse and worse. It’s important to know that it’s possible to improve this condition and it’s considered to be a peripheral neuropathy. We’ll now take a look at what it means to be in one degree or the other:

  • Axonotmesis. In this stage, we can notice weakness, tingling, or numbness but it’s very slight. In fact, if we let the hand rest, the discomfort disappears. This is the best stage to reverse the problem without medication or surgery.
  • Neuropraxia. The median nerve begins to be somewhat more affected and on the verge of tearing. The pain in the hand increases, as well as the other symptoms. With certain drugs and surgery, the syndrome may be reversed.
  • Neurotmesis. The nerve has already been torn and the mobility of the fingers is lost. At this stage, the chances of repairing the damage are very poor. In fact, not even surgery can guarantee a solution.

Now that you know what can happen if you don’t treat carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important that, at the sign of any discomfort or pain, you seek help urgently. If not, the problem won’t reverse itself, but will continue to progress and worsen.

Treatment options

As the scientific literature indicates, there are several treatment options to resolve carpal tunnel syndrome. Furthermore, we’ll link these options to the different stages they might apply to.

  • Rest. If we’re in the axonotmesis stage, rest may be a good option because carpal tunnel syndrome sometimes appears due to overuse of the hands.
  • Orthopedic devices. If we can’t let our hands rest as they need, using a wrist splint or orthopedic brace can prevent symptoms from worsening.
  • Heat and cold. Applying cold to the area will help reduce swelling and reduce pain. After 48 hours, heat is recommended to relax the median nerve.
  • Medication. This is only recommended under medical prescription and are usually necessary when you’re in neuropraxia and none of the above calms us. They can help to reduce inflammation if the use of cold doesn’t help.
A person with pills.
  • Physical therapy. Muscle massage or exercises designed to treat carpal tunnel syndrome can reverse it. Also, occupational therapy can help us to acquire habits to prevent the syndrome from recurring.
  • Surgery. This is usually the last of the options considered, since in axonotmesis and neuropraxia it is not usually necessary and in neurotmesis its results may not be as expected.

Some thoughts on the subject

If you don’t treat carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll need to try more and more treatment options to find a solution to eradicate the problem. However, we must emphasize the importance of acquiring good habits.

For example, as we mentioned earlier, if you’re preparing for a written exam and you’re writing a lot, then you can use a wrist splint as a preventive measure. Also, doing exercises to relax the hands and wrists after writing for a long time can help.

Waiting for carpal tunnel syndrome to develop and for the symptoms to worsen is a big mistake. Losing mobility in the fingers could cripple your hand forever, causing the fingers to become claw-like without being able to stretch them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Calandruccio JH. Carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, and stenosing tenosynovitis. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 76.
  • Zhao M, Burke DT. Median neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome). In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 36.
  • Parra, F., Parra, L., Tisiotti, P., & Willie, J. (2008). Sindrome del tunel carpiano. Revista de Posgrado de l 10 a VIa Cátedra de Medicina. N.
  • Cañellas Trobat, A., Fernández Camacho, F., & Cañellas Ruesga, A. (2010). Síndrome del tunel carpiano: Valoración anatomo-clínica. Actualización en su diagnóstico y tratamiento. Dialnet.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.