What Types of Treatment Are Provided for Patients With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? A Retrospective Analysis of Commercial Insurance

Nancy A. Baker, Joel M. Stevans, Lauren Terhorst, Allen M. Haas, Yong Fan Kuo, Soham Al Snih

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Background: Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in commercially insured patients across the spectrum of provider types rarely has been described. Objective: To describe patterns of types of treatment for patients with CTS using a large commercial insurance database. Design: Retrospective cohort descriptive study. Setting: Administrative health data from the Clinformatics Data Mart (OptumInsight, Eden Prairie, MN). Patients: Adults with a primary diagnosis of CTS seen from between January 2010 to December 2012 who had a total of 48 months of continuous data (12 months before diagnosis and 36 months after diagnosis) (n = 24,931). Outcomes: Frequency of types of treatment (heat, manual therapy, positioning, steroids, stretching, surgery) by number of treatments, number of visits, provider type, and characteristics. Results: Fifty-four percent of patients received no reported treatment, and 50.4% had no additional visits. Surgery (42.5%) and positioning (39.8%) were the most frequent single treatments. Patients who were seen by orthopedist for their first visit more frequently received some treatment (75.1%) and at least 1 additional visit (74.1%) compared with those seen by general practitioners (59.5%, 57.5%, respectively) or other providers (65.4%, 68.4, respectively). Orthopedists more frequently prescribed positioning devices (26.8%) and surgery (36.8%) than general practitioners (18.8%, 14.1%, respectively) or other providers (15.7%, 19.7%, respectively). Older adults more frequently had CTS surgery, as did people who lived in the Midwest. Overall, only 24% of patients with CTS had surgery. Conclusions: For more than one-half of patients with CTS no treatment was provided after an initial visit. Surgery rates were much lower than what has previously been reported in the literature. Generally, patients with CTS receive treatments that are supported by current treatment guidelines. Level of Evidence: NA

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)826-835
    Number of pages10
    JournalPM and R
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Aug 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
    • Rehabilitation
    • Neurology
    • Clinical Neurology


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