Surgical Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you treat your carpal tunnel syndrome properly, using blood flow stimulation therapy and ultrasound, before it becomes severe you can avoid irreversible damage and the need for surgery. However, some doctors may recommend surgery as an option to treat carpal tunnel symptoms. If a tumor is present, surgery is necessary to remove it and alleviate the pressure it is putting on the median nerve. Like with any surgery, there are risks involved and the recovery time can incapacitate the patient completely for about 2 weeks, requiring assistance at home. Results vary depending on the patient and there is no guarantee surgery will cure everyone.
What to Expect After Surgery
Immediately following surgery, most patients experience weakening in their grip and less dexterity. Returning to work involving strenuous or repetitive wrist movements is not recommended for at least 6-12 weeks as it increases the risk of the symptoms returning. The proper healing methods, blood flow stimulation therapy, cold compression and ultrasound, along with physical therapy can speed recovery.
After surgery a splint, and possibly a sling for comfort, is recommended for a few weeks. The hand must be elevated frequently to avoid swelling in the hand and moving the elbow, shoulder and fingers frequently is recommended.
Unfortunately, the outcome of surgery is difficult to determine ahead of time as the numbness and pain may decrease immediately or may take up to 10 months to show improvement, if at all. During surgery the carpal ligament is permanently cut and as a result, some wrist strength may be lost.
There are 2 Types of CTS Surgery:
Open Carpal Tunnel Release
During this surgery, an incision is made at the base of the hand. The transverse carpal ligament is cut, releasing pressure on the median nerve and the incision is stitched closed. The gap created where the cut was made eventually fills in with scar tissue. This surgery is usually performed under local anesthetic and no hospital stay is required.
Endoscopic surgery is a newer procedure using fiber-optic tools and a video monitor for the surgeon to view the surgery. Only a tiny cut at the wrist is necessary to allow the endoscope into the tunnel so the surgical instruments can reach the transverse carpal ligament. This surgery is usually performed under local anesthetic and no hospital stay is required.
Open carpal tunnel surgery requires a longer recovery period than endoscopic surgery and painful scar tissue may be more likely to develop after open surgery than after endoscopic surgery. However, both types of surgery have risks and benefits that should be discussed with your doctor.