Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by compression of the median nerve as it courses through the wrist passing beneath a tough ligament called the transverse carpal ligament to your hand
The little space under this ligament where the median nerve passes is called the carpal tunnel. Carpal tunnel syndrome presents with numbness and tingling in the affected hand, pain on the front side of your wrist, and weakness and clumsiness of the hand.
There are so many factors that cause carpal tunnel syndrome and these include: repetitive movement of the wrist, pregnancy, short stature, fractured wrist, diabetes, obesity, , and use of walking aids.
Although conservative management involving splinting of the wrist at nights and taking pain relief medicines can resolve the symptoms, the symptoms could get as severe and persistent in some individuals as to needing surgical repair.
Why is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery Done?
Doctors would recommend a surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome for the following reasons:
- After employing non-surgical treatment for some weeks or months, you still do not get relief from your symptoms.
- Your symptoms are so severe they affect your normal daily activities.
- Damage to the median nerve, which presents as loss of function in your fingers or hand.
How is a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery Performed?
Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is often done as an outpatient procedure. It is performed by a hand surgeon. Before the procedure, you will be given a local anaesthetic in your hand to numb the pain that will ensue.
Your doctor would make an incision at the base of the palm of the affected hand to visualize the transverse carpal ligament. The ligament is the cut, and the incision stitched back. The cut part of the ligament is not stitched, it is left to heal with scar tissue.
After completing the procedure, the hand is dressed and the stitches are removed in 1 to 2 weeks.
Your doctor may take the endoscopic approach to the surgery or may just perform an open surgery with a large incision in your hand. The endoscopic approach involves making a small incision through which a tube, called an endoscope, is passed to aid in visualizing and cutting of the ligament.
The cut ligament releases the carpal tunnel and gives relief to the median nerve. You may begin to feel improvement in your symptoms immediately after the surgery, in some cases, however, it may take a couple of months before the symptoms go away.After the surgery, your doctor would advise you to avoid strenuous use of the hand and on how much time you should stay off work to ensure proper healing of your hand.
If the surgery was done on your dominant hand, particularly if you use the hand for heavy work at your workplace, you will be told to stay off work for 1 to 2 months. If the surgery was done on the other hand, you may return to work within a week or two.
What risks are associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery?
It is very rare to have serious complications of this surgery, however, the main complication is nerve damage. There is a very small risk of having your median nerve damaged during the surgery.