How Much Does Carpal Tunnel Surgery Cost?

Written by: Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

Carpal tunnel surgery is a surgical treatment performed on a hand that has carpal tunnel syndrome.  Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by the numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the thumb and fingers.  The effect can also lead to pain in the hands or wrists as well as loss of grip or strength.

The price for a carpal tunnel surgery depends on the geographical location where it will be performed, the physician performing the surgery, the method being used, your personal health and if health insurance is involved.

Bruise by Sheep purple, on Flickr
Bruise” (CC BY 2.0) by Sheep purple

How much does carpal tunnel surgery cost?

On average, carpal tunnel surgery performed in an ambulatory surgery center can cost anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000.  The price includes the payment made to the surgeon as well as for the ambulatory surgery center services.  This price is for outpatients only and does not include overnight stay with the medical institution.  Even with a solid insurance plan, after the co-pays and deductibles, the average patient, according to research, pays $800 to $1,300 out of pocket.

Carpal tunnel surgery which is performed in a hospital can range anywhere from $4,200 to more than $10,000 without insurance.  This price usually includes the fee for the physician, anesthesia and your hospital stay.  Keep in mind, however, most hospitals will have its own billing policy and you may see separate bills in the mail that come from the surgeon and anesthesiologist, for example.

The National Center for Medicare and Medicaid said Medicare patients paid an average of $887 for the surgery and close to $1,200 for the aftercare.

According to the website, the cost of carpal tunnel surgery can range anywhere from $2,700 to as much as $5,000 depending on the location of the surgery.  A local clinic is going to cost a lot less than a hospital setting.

Amino found the average median network rate for the surgery is $2,900.

Carpal tunnel surgery overview

Before the surgery is even considered, the doctor will want to explore all nonsurgical methods, which can include injections, stabilizing the wrist or using inflammatory drugs.  Surgery will usually be a last resort, and if recommended, the doctor will want to perform a basic physical exam, take x-rays and test the strength of the hand to make sure the patient is a suitable candidate.

There are two common surgical methods:  open release surgery or endoscopic surgery.

During an open release procedure, an incision will be made through the wrist and the carpal ligament will be severed in order to relieve the pressure on the nerve.  After the pressure on the nerve has been released, the incision will be closed up.   Most procedures take 30 to 45 minutes to perform.

During endoscopic surgery, the surgeon will perform the same tasks as the open release; however, a tiny camera will be inserted into one or two incisions to help reduce the scarring and recovery.

The average recovery time can be up to 12 weeks.

What are the extra costs?

To help the muscles relax and to sedate the patient, a local or general anesthesia will be administered.  General anesthesia, which will be administered at the hospital, can cost anywhere from $400 to $900 and will commonly be billed separately.  A local anesthesia will be used at an outpatient center and will be much cheaper.

If the surgery is performed in a hospital, there will be an additional fee added each day stayed overnight.

Depending on the circumstances, physical therapy sessions may be needed, and the average cost of these procedures can cost $100 to $250 each without insurance.  Aftercare treatment can cost another $1,000 to $2,500.

A brace or splint will be needed after the procedure and may be included in the billing.  Some may bill this separately

A follow-up appointment, usually a week or two later, will need to be scheduled to have the stitches removed.

Tips to know

My Carpal Tunnel says this is a permanent fix and 85 percent of the time, the problem will come back within six months to seven years.  The website also mentions this surgery has a very low success rate and only works 50 to 60 percent of the time.

Risks may include stiffness, nerve damage, scarring, pain or a loss of strength in the wrist area.

According to the National Institute of Health, an increase in B6 vitamins have been shown to help ease carpal tunnel symptoms.

How can I save money?

Look for outpatient services instead of a hospital to avoid paying higher hospital fees.

You may want to check with your medical insurance provider to see if they cover the procedure.  If it’s deemed medically necessary, it may be covered.

If you don’t have health insurance, some hospitals will offer a cash discount if paid up front.

Consider talking with your doctor for alternative methods.  This type of surgery should be your last resort as most mild cases can be remedied with a simple splint; corticosteroid or lidocaine injections; or by using anti-inflammatory medicine such an ibuprofen.   The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons actually recommends you try all nonsurgical methods first before considering any surgical procedures.

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