Objectives The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of time to return to work (RTW) after carpal tunnel release (CTR), including return to different occupations and working patterns. Methods A systematic search from inception to 2016 was conducted using nine electronic databases, trial registries and grey literature repositories. Randomized controlled trials and observational studies reporting RTW times after CTR were included. Study risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane risk of bias assessment tools. Time to RTW was summarized using median and range. Results A total of 56 relevant studies were identified: 18 randomized controlled trials and 38 observational studies. Only 4 studies were rated as having a low risk of bias. Reported RTW times ranged from 4-168 days. Few studies reported occupational information. Among 6 studies, median time to return to non-manual work was 21 days (range 7-41), compared with 39 days for manual work (range 18-101). Median time to return to modified or full duties was 23 days (ranges 12-50 and 17-64, respectively), as reported by 3 studies. There was no common method of defining, collecting or reporting RTW data. Conclusions This review highlights wide variation in reported RTW times after CTR. Whilst occupational factors may play a role, these were poorly reported, and there is currently limited evidence to inform individual patients of their expected duration of work absence after CTR. A standardized definition of RTW is needed, as well as an agreed method of collecting and reporting related data.
LN was funded by an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (Ref: DRF-2015-08-056).
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Sick Leave Time Factors
- Return to Work
- Occupational Diseases