Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery: The Essentials
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve situated in the wrist.
The condition is characterized by weakness, numbness, and tingling in the hand.
The median nerve together with several other tendons runs from the forearm to the hand and it passes through the carpal tunnel.
The median nerve works by controlling the feeling and movement in the thumb as well as the three fingers except the little finger.
Treatment options will be based on the severity of the condition.
Treatment alternatives can range from non-invasive remedies to carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.
The primary cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the median nerve.
The pressure can be the result of swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller.
The swelling can be the result of many causes including:
- Hand movements that are repeated especially when the wrist is bent
- Other medical conditions like hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include tingling, numbness, and pain in the fingers or hands.
Some people may also experience pain in the arm, between the hand, and the elbow.
Other symptoms will also manifest in the index, middle, ring finger, and the thumb.
Oftentimes, people experience the symptoms at night.
Shaking the hand has been known to offer relief, albeit just temporary.
To diagnose the condition, the doctor would most likely ask if you have other health issues like arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.
Patients will also likely be asked about their daily routine or recent activities.
The doctor will also check the feeling, strength, and appearance of the arms, shoulders, hands, neck, and wrists.
When needed, nerve and blood tests may be required.
Mild cases of the condition will often respond well to home care treatments.
Home remedies can include:
- Icing the wrist every 1 to 2 hours (10 to 15 minutes each time).
- Regularly resting the wrist in between activities.
- Refraining from doing activities that can cause numbness and pain.
- Wearing a night splint to take the pressure off the median nerve.
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to minimize the pain and reduce the swelling.
While carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is an option, it is only often considered when the symptoms have become so severe that it already affects the quality of life of the patient.
It is also the treatment option considered when the condition does not respond to noninvasive treatment alternatives.
Surgery is also considered when there is obvious loss of feeling or coordination in the hand or fingers, when sleep becomes erratic because of the pain, and when there is reduced strength in the thumb.
However, when nerve damage is seen in the nerve test result, surgery will become the most likely treatment option.
In order to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, the transverse carpal ligament is cut. This is done in order to relieve pressure exerted on the median nerve.
Two surgery approaches are often used:
Open carpal tunnel release surgery
This kind of surgery will require a longer recovery period and will leave a bigger scar compared to endoscopic surgery.
Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery
This type of procedure has a quicker recovery period compared to open surgery. And since the incisions are smaller, it will likely heal faster.
Typically, the recovery period will only take 3 months.
While many factors need to be taken into account before endoscopic surgery is resorted to, it is recommended that the surgeon’s experience with the procedure is also considered.
Endoscopic surgery uses very technical equipment so picking a surgeon that has done the procedure numerous times is considered ideal.
If you notice classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, please visit www.bjios.sg for proper help and guidance.