Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common cause of hand pain occurring when the passageway in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel, compresses the median nerve. Since the median nerve carries signals for sensation and muscle movement, it causes pain and won’t function when compressed.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will begin your treatment with non-surgical methods like pain medication, physical therapy, and splints. If you no longer respond to conservative treatments and the pain becomes debilitating, your orthopedic surgeon may consider surgery.
Here’s what you should know about carpal tunnel release.
What Happens During Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
There are two types of carpal tunnel surgery: open and endoscopic. During an open release, your surgeon will make an opening about two or three inches wide along your palm. This incision gives them access to the transverse carpal ligament or the roof of the carpal tunnel. Once they have access, they will make an incision to expand the tunnel and reduce pressure on the median nerve. Then, they will close and stitch the incision. The procedure should take around 15 minutes.
Another option for carpal tunnel surgery is endoscopic release. This is a minimally invasive procedure where your surgeon makes relatively smaller cuts — around half an inch each in size. From there, your surgeon will insert an endoscope, a thin tube with a light and camera attached to one end. The endoscope offers a real-time view of your carpal tunnel and guides your orthopedic surgeon during the procedure.
Once the endoscope is in, your surgeon will place a tube, called a cannula, along the median nerve. Then, they will insert an instrument through the cannula and make an incision in the transverse carpal ligament. This expands the tunnel and reduces pressure on the nerve.
The surrounding tissue structures won’t take as much damage after an endoscopic release because of the smaller incisions and specialized tools. This option can reduce pain and speed up healing compared to open release.
What Happens After Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
After surgery, your hand and wrist will be bandaged or placed in a splint. Your orthopedic surgeon will give you instructions on how to take care of yourself. They may prescribe pain medication and ask you to elevate the hand at night to decrease swelling. Typically, surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is an outpatient procedure, so you can return home on the same day as the surgery.
Make sure to follow movement restrictions. Don’t overexert the operated hand and use your other hand as much as possible.
You can typically have your stitches removed around two weeks after surgery. Once the splint is taken off, you may begin a physical therapy program. Your physical therapist will guide you through exercises to strengthen the wrist and hand.
The length of recovery varies per person depending on the severity of your symptoms and overall health. As a rough guide, most people experience relief from painful symptoms approximately two weeks after stitch removal. It’s usually safe to return to most activities six weeks after the operation.
Make sure to call your orthopedic surgeon if you feel any of these symptoms:
- Redness, swelling, or drainage in the incision site
- Persistent pain that does not fade even with conservative treatments
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment In Clinton Township, MI
Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome has a success rate of over 90%, attesting to the effectiveness of the treatment. Most patients report significant relief from tingling sensations and pain after the operation. Combining surgery with other treatment modalities can improve the outcome of your treatment even further.
If you want to check if you’re a good candidate for carpal tunnel surgery, visit the experts at Movement Orthopedics today. Our very own Dr. Troy Williams is a board-certified orthopedic hand surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow conditions. Dr. Williams will perform a comprehensive assessment and design an appropriate treatment plan.
If we determine that you require surgery, you can rest easy in the capable hands of Dr. Williams and our team. We take pride in using state-of-the-art surgical equipment and techniques to improve outcomes for our patients.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams, call us today at (586) 436-3785 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you.