Results of Carpal Tunnel Surgery in Patients with Diabetes
People with diabetes often have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS can occur as a result of pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the bones in the wrist. The nerve can also get stuck inside its protective covering and no longer glide as it should. This is called nerve entrapment. CTS from nerve entrapment can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrists, hands, and fingers.

The treatment for CTS may involve an operation, called carpal tunnel release, to get pressure off the nerve. Some studies show that patients with diabetes and CTS don't have as good a result after release surgery as patients with CTS who don't have diabetes.

To test this idea, doctors in Italy compared two groups of patients with CTS. Group one (24 patients) had CTS and diabetes. Group two (72 patients) only had CTS. Symptoms, pain level, strength, and function were measured one month and six months after the operation.

The authors report relief from pain and symptoms right away in almost all the patients in both groups. All but two patients went back to work within a month of the carpal tunnel release. Patients in both groups continued to improve up to six months after the operation.

Unlike other studies, these researchers conclude there is no difference in results between CTS patients with and without diabetes. In other words, diabetes isn't a risk factor for a poor result after carpal tunnel surgery. This means diabetes should not keep a patient who needs it from having carpal tunnel surgery.
Mauro Mondelli, MD, et al. Outcome of Surgical Release Among Diabetics with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. January 2004. Vol. 85. No. 1. Pp. 7-13.