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Multiple Concurrent Decompressions for the Treatment of Upper Extremity Pain

Open AccessPublished:November 18, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsg.2022.08.014

      Purpose

      Neuropathic pain can be life altering and difficult to treat. Nerves can be compressed along their path in the upper extremities, resulting in chronic neuropathic pain. This study was performed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of multiple concomitant distal nerve decompressions for the treatment of upper extremity nerve pain.

      Methods

      A retrospective review of patients from a single surgeon’s academic practice was performed to identify those undergoing nerve decompressions for an indication of “pain” as the referring diagnosis between April 2020 and June 2021. The primary outcomes included patient-reported severity of pain using the Visual Analog Scale and quality-of-life measures, including level of frustration, depression, and impact on quality of life attributable to pain on a similar 0–10 Likert scale. Complications, if any, were also determined.

      Results

      Eleven patients were identified to have undergone multiple concurrent nerve decompressions for the indication of upper extremity pain. All sites chosen for decompression were found to be provocative, ie, elicited increased pain on examination with compression. The median number of decompressions performed was 5 (interquartile range, 4–6), ranging from 3 to 7. The mean follow-up time was 5 months (SD, 3.43 months). The average pain over the last month and the average pain over the past week had significant improvement at the final follow-up, and there was a statistically significant decrease in the patient-reported mean impact of pain on quality of life following decompressions (preoperative, 5.8; postoperative, 3.6; P = .017; 95% confidence interval, 0.2–4.3). No complications were identified.

      Conclusions

      Performing multiple concomitant nerve decompressions of the upper extremities is safe and effective in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain following upper extremity trauma.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic IV.

      Key words

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