Finding the Right Doctor for Carpal Tunnel Release

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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If it’s time to schedule carpal tunnel release surgery, you’ll be more likely to have positive results if you work with a well-qualified hand doctor, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon, or neurosurgeon. Here are different factors to consider as you select a surgeon for your carpal tunnel release surgery.


Hand Doctors With Expertise in Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

A hand doctor or other surgeon with experience and expertise in carpal tunnel surgery should meet these requirements:

  • Is board certified and who specializes in hand surgery (this can be a hand surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon, or neurosurgeon)
  • Has experience treating patients with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Practices at a hospital or surgical center known to have high-quality outcomes in the type of surgery that your surgeon practices 
  • Accepts your insurance
  • Can give you a clear explanation of different aspects of the surgery, such as the procedure itself and the recovery period

As you consider carpal tunnel release surgery, keep these five steps in mind to find the best surgeon to perform your procedure.

1. Make a list of candidates.

Start by asking your family, friends, and current healthcare providers for surgeon recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or if you’re looking for more options, search for hand surgeons on Healthgrades.com

Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.

2. Research credentials and experience.

Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in hand surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or neurosurgery, and who performs carpal tunnel release on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has with carpal tunnel release, the better your results are likely to be. 

Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. 

You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.

3. Review hospital performance.

Carpal tunnel release requires experienced healthcare professionals. For this reason, if you are having carpal tunnel release at a hospital, you should consider the overall quality of care at the hospital where the surgeon practices. 

Find out where the surgeons on your list can treat patients and if they perform carpal tunnel release at hospitals; then research those hospitals. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients and patient safety and satisfaction while in the hospital for a range of common procedures, including orthopedic procedures

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome. Some surgeons perform surgery at outpatient surgery centers. You should still explore the quality of care and surgery success at these centers. Make sure the facility has a plan for surgical complications, such as a reaction to anesthesia.

4. Meet with the surgeon.

As you narrow down your list of carpal tunnel release surgeons, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. 

  • Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the hand doctor. 
  • Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand? 

Here are some questions to ask the doctor:

  • How frequently do you treat patients like me?
  • How many carpal tunnel releases have you performed?
  • What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
  • How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery? 
  • What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?

5. Determine your insurance benefit. 

Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan. 

But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jul 29
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm

  2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00005

  3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/CarpalTunnelSyndrome.aspx

  4. What is a Hand Surgeon? American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00013