Carpal Tunnel Surgery: What To Expect

Carpal Tunnel Surgery: What To Expect

Through a variety of possible causes, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome happens when the median nerve in the hand becomes compressed within a major ligament in the wrist. When the carpal tunnel and the transverse carpal ligament across the top (or inside) of the wrist is injured or tight, swelling of the tissues within the tunnel can press on the median nerve. Since the tunnel is already tight, this condition is common and causes pain, numbing and tingling in the hand and arm. Carpal Tunnel Surgery releases this pressure on the nerve by cutting the ligament, which later rejoins with more room for the median nerve.

This condition typically gets worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are a smart move. It can lead to other problems, like poor circulation and loss of grip strength.

It is caused by a combination of factors, one of them being that it can be hereditary. Women and older people between 30 and 60 are more likely to get it.

Summary: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the compression of the median nerve in the hand which causes pain. Carpal Tunnel Surgery can ‘release’ this pain by cutting the ligament, which then reforms in recovery.

What Are The Risk Factors?

  • Heredity. Certain physical traits run in families, such as having a small amount of space in the ligament for the nerve to pass through the wrist. Physicians have learned that some people have a congenital predisposition to this condition.
  • Unusual positions: Extreme flexing of the hand or wrist over and over can be detrimental in the long run. Some people even sleep with their wrists bent in harmful positions without realizing it. Symptoms occurring at night are common in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Repetitive hand use: This is a commonly known risk factor, which can occur in certain jobs and can be aggravated by tools and equipment that are not ergonomically suited for a person. At risk occupations include, manufacturing, assembly work, keyboard usage, construction, and even hospitality, involving repeated carrying of food and drinks with trays.
  • Health issues: It can be a sign of or a result of Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and thyroid imbalances.
  • Injury: Doctors are increasingly seeing that injury, such as a sprain or fracture, can be the instigator for this painful condition. Injury can also occur from either repetition or the use of certain tools, such as a vibrating tool.

Non-surgical interventions are tried before surgery, such as pain medication, equipment changes at work, wrist splints and physical therapy. When these don’t relieve the symptoms, and symptoms persist for 6 months or longer, surgery may become necessary.

The doctor will perform an electromyography test of the median nerve to diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Then the type of surgery will be determined based on various factors.

There are two main types of this release surgery- open and endoscopic. Open is the traditional surgery involving an incision up to 2 inches from palm to wrist. In endoscopic surgery, a very small camera is used to guide the physician as he or she cuts the ligament. The incisions are smaller and a thin tube containing the camera is guided into the tiny cut to provide a visual for the surgeon who works via another tiny incision.

Summary: The likelihood of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome increases with repetitive hand motion, injury and having a history of it in your family. There is a test to determine whether you have the condition or not.

carpal tunnel surgery

How To Prepare For Surgery

  • You’ll need to find a reputable carpal tunnel suergeon. There are risks with every surgery and recovery has everything to do with your surgeon as well as your willingness to follow directions after the surgery. This will involve doing things you may have already done pre-surgery, such as splinting your wrist and getting physical therapy to strengthen your weakened wrist and hand.
  • Try to quit smoking. Smoking delays healing and impedes circulation.
  • Tell your physician about all medicines. You’ll want to divulge any prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs and other supplements. Some medicines impede blood clotting, such as aspirin and will need to be stopped just before surgery.
  • Possible blood tests and/or electrocardiogram (ECG). Your physician may require these to determine if any medical conditions exists that will hinder the surgery. If a patient is diabetic, blood sugar must be kept at an appropriate level.
  • Fast the night before. As with other surgeries, you’ll be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before the surgery.
  • Have a plan for work. Whether you are able to take on ‘light-duty’ at work, take on a different type of job, modify your work style, or take a leave of absence to recover, it is wise to prepare for how recovery will affect your performance.

This has a lot to do with how flexible your company is and how long your recovery ends up taking. Many people put off this surgery because of work, but you may only need to miss a week or two, unless your job involves heavy manual labor.

Summary: Your doctor will need your medical history and may perform blood tests. Taking care of your body, to include not smoking, will help in surgery and recovery. Plan for your recovery time.

What Happens During Carpal Tunnel Surgery

You will most likely be asked to put on a hospital gown.

Local anesthetic is used to numb the hand and wrist. You may be given a pain-killer that could make you sleepy. For open-release surgery, the surgeon uses surgical instruments to cut the carpal ligament and enlarge the carpal tunnel. He or she will then stitch up the incision or incisions.

You will be placed in a splint or bandaged heavily enough to prevent movement of the wrist.

You’ll stay in the office or hospital to be monitored for a short while to ensure your body reacts in a typical way to the surgery and anesthesia. It’s rare to be kept overnight. You can then return home and will not have use of your hand yet.

Summary: Surgery takes less than half an hour. The surgeon will make a simple incision with local anesthesia in this outpatient surgery.

carpal tunnel surgery

What Will My Recovery From Surgery Be Like?

There will be two types of initial pain. One is at the incision site, as it heals. That will be there for days or weeks, depending on how quickly your body heals and how well you protect the incision site.

Pillar pain is the other type of pain. It occurs in the thicker parts of the palm called the thenar and hyppothenar eminence. This type of pain can be addressed through rest, therapy and hand massage.

You may experience some numbness and tingling. This is possibly the result of long-standing compression and resulting nerve damage. A nerve test, called an EMG study, can indicate the level of nerve compression before the surgery.

Recovery can be easier and less painful if you resist the urge to use your hand. It may be helpful to use voice activated commands on electronic devices, and change your routine to minimize physical adjustments and work on your part.

Factors which affect recovery time are patient health and age, as well as how far progressed the condition was at the time of surgery. This is the case with most health conditions. Following instructions to elevate the hand and do consistent therapy are going to make a big difference.

All of these symptoms, to include coordination and hand strength improves over the following weeks and months.

Summary: Recovery time depends on choosing a skilled surgeon as well as following doctor-recommended steps at home. Pain, coordination and strength get better in weeks and months after surgery.

Learn About Healing From Carpal Tunnel Surgery Then Call Our Office:

  • An appointment to remove the bandages and stitches. This is typically done 1 week after surgery.
  • Resume light activity. Depending on the type of work, you may plan to return back to work approximately 2-4 weeks after the surgery. Pain should be gradually decreasing in the palm.
  • It is a time when normal activities can be resumed, such as driving, light lifting, gripping and typing. It may be a good idea to use a splint to give the wrist rests between activities.
  • Full mobility: Should occur or be working towards it with therapy at about 4 weeks. All normal activities, to include sports may be expected between 6-8 weeks.

Carpal Tunnel Release boasts high success in relieving nerve pain with the goal of pain-free hand-usage.

Summary: This common surgery has low-risk and a high success rate. There are varying rates of healing, but light activity can be resumed within 2-4 weeks.

We know this can be a trying time with the pain and discomfort in your hand and we have the tools and people in place to get you on the road to recovery. Contact Dr. Khan today at 734-419-1615 to set up a consultation for your Carpal Tunnel Surgery.

26850 Providence Pkwy

Suite 125

Novi, MI 48374

Phone: 734-419-1615

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