Orthopedic Surgery

January 26, 2016

What You Need to Know About Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery


Repetitious motions and repetitive actions are often to blame for carpal tunnel syndrome. The National Institute of Health points to typing on a keyboard or operating a mouse as two of the primary causes of carpal tunnel.

The median nerve runs through your wrist and conveys both movement and feeling in your hand. Too much pressure on the median nerve can cause the tingling, weakness, and numbness that are the hallmarks of carpal tunnel syndrome. This complex bundle of passageways runs through your wrist to your hand through a narrow passageway – the carpal tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel Symptoms

If the narrow carpal tunnel passageway is blocked or narrows even further, then the nerves in your hand can become compressed and inflamed, which triggers carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Tingling or numbness in your hand, particularly in your palm, thumb, and first two fingers
  • Inability to grip or handle objects
  • Weakness in either or both hands
  • Pain that radiates from your wrist to the elbow
  • Feeling of electric shock in hand or fingers
  • Pain at night or throughout the day

Being overweight or engaging in repetitive motions can cause swelling in the carpal tunnel and trigger carpal tunnel syndrome. If the symptoms of carpal tunnel are interfering with your everyday life, you may need carpal tunnel surgery.

When to Get Carpal Tunnel Surgery
There are several treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome. The right treatment for you will depend on the severity and frequency of your symptoms and the results of your diagnostic tests. Milder cases can be treated using non-surgical methods while more severe cases may require surgical intervention to heal.

When non-surgical treatments like over-the-counter NSAIDs, physical therapy, and switching to and ergonomic keyboard and mouse are ineffective or lose effectiveness over time, talk to your orthopedic surgeon about carpal tunnel release surgery.

What to Expect During Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Carpal tunnel release surgery is designed to open up a larger tunnel or pathway for the median nerve. Your orthopedic surgeon will make an incision at the base of your palm and then cut the transverse carpal ligament. Once this passageway is widened, the pressure on your median nerve is relieved and the symptoms are eliminated. You may notice a significant difference immediately or up to three months after surgery.

The procedure will take about 20 minutes in total, and you will be kept under observation until the anesthesia wears off. Your hand will be stitched and bandaged. Your stitches will be removed on a follow-up visit with your orthopedic surgeon 10 to 14 days after surgery.

You should be able to return to work in a few days, although if you type consistently, or your dominant hand was operated on, you will be limited for several weeks. Physical therapy and ergonomic equipment can help ease your transition. Ask your orthopedic surgeon about your recovery options and treatment plan.

To learn more about carpal tunnel surgery in Arkansas, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877)-918-7020 to schedule a consultation with one of our renowned orthopedic surgeons.

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