An estimated 1 in every 350 people develops carpal tunnel syndrome every year. This painful condition involves the carpal tunnel – which is a thin passageway that runs through the wrist from the arm to the hand – and the median nerve, which is housed inside the tunnel and is largely responsible for hand sensation and movement. If tissue swells around the carpal tunnel, or if you consistently perform movements that apply pressure on the area, this can constrict the median nerve and cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can result in pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling sensations that start in one part of the hand and radiate into the arm. You might find that your grip has weakened, causing you to drop objects more easily.
One indicator of carpal tunnel syndrome is that the pinkie finger is not affected, because the median nerve extends into all fingers except that one. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can cause disability in the hand, making it difficult or impossible to perform simple things like holding a pen or buttoning a shirt.
Fortunately, conservative treatments such as wearing a splint and taking prescription pain medication usually work in mild cases. However, your orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery if you have a severe case. Let’s talk about what carpal tunnel syndrome surgery entails, and where you can go in Macomb County for world-class orthopedic treatment that gets your hand back and working again.
Types of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
There are two main types of carpal tunnel surgery, open release and endoscopic:
Open Release Carpal Tunnel Surgery
The traditional procedure for treating carpal tunnel syndrome is open release surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will use a local anesthetic to numb the hand and wrist. Then, the doctor will make an incision in the wrist to reach the carpal ligament. The physician will then cut the ligament in order to widen the carpal tunnel and thereby reduce pressure on the median nerve.
After the surgery, the ligament usually heals back, but more space is left in the tunnel than before. The additional space relieves pressure on the median nerve and reduces or eliminates the pain and other symptoms.
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Surgery
In endoscopic surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will use small surgical tools and imaging guidance. Instead of making a large incision as in open release surgery, your surgeon will make one or two tiny incisions in the wrist and palm.
From there, the doctor will insert an endoscope – a thin tube with fiber-optic camera functionality at the end. The endoscope transmits a real-time view of the nerve, ligament, and tendons to a nearby monitor to guide your orthopedic surgeon during the operation. Your surgeon will then cut the carpal ligament to open the tunnel.
The main benefit of endoscopic surgery is that there is not usually as much damage inflicted on the surrounding structures and tissues as compared to open release surgery, because endoscopic surgery uses smaller incisions that heal more quickly. Most patients experience less post-operative pain, and they enjoy a faster recovery than after open release surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery in Clinton Township, MI
If you would like to explore treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome and hand pain, look no further than Movement Orthopedics. Our very own Dr. Troy Williams is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow conditions, and he can evaluate your hand and wrist condition and recommend – and administer – the treatment that would work best for you.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, call our friendly staff today at (586) 436-3785or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to taking good care of your hands!