I'm 59 years old and off work with carpal tunnel surgery. I can't decide if I should go back to work or not. What do other people my age do when faced with this decision?
According to a recent study looking at factors predicting return to work after carpal tunnel surgery, this is a complex and multifactorial problem. Patients who are least likely to return to work are those who have other musculoskeletal problems requiring surgery, worker compensation cases, unfavorable work environment, blue collar work status, and belief that the problem was work-related. Number of days before returning to work (referred to as duration of sick leave) were also linked with these risk factors plus one more: dissatisfaction with results of surgery. Dissatisfaction with surgery is a difficult factor to analyze and understand because it inovlves patient expectations and actual results. Other studies have shown that workers employed in jobs requiring repetitive or intensive hand work and manual labor are most likely to have longer return to work times following carpal tunnel surgery. In fact, sick leave in industries with a high rate of carpal tunnel syndrome is rarely less than six months following surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. It seems there is a relationship between medical, surgical, and occupational factors and return to work status for workers with carpal tunnel syndrome. Predicting who will be able to return to work (and how soon) after carpal tunnel surgery is not simple or straightforward. With so many potential risk factors and most cases involving more than one factor, makes predicting return to work a challenge. Adding age-related factors and facing the decision to retire (or possibly change jobs) muddies the waters a bit more. There isn't one best way to predict who will go back to work, when, or why/why not. This is a