If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, depending on the severity, your doctor might recommend surgery. Surgery – it’s a scary word and you may not know exactly what it means for you. If you find yourself facing the option of carpal tunnel surgery, here are some things you can expect.
What You Need to Know: Carpal Tunnel Surgery
If you have been diagnosed by your doctor with carpal tunnel syndrome, you likely have a few different treatment options. One of those options is surgery. Surgery might be recommended by a medical professional if your carpal tunnel is pretty severe. Only a doctor will be able to recommend the right treatment option for you.
First, what exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome? Well, your carpal tunnel is a narrow opening in your wrist. Inside of this opening runs the median nerve as well as several tendons. If these tendons become swollen or inflamed, from various repetitive movements, they can put pressure on the median nerve. This pressure on the nerve can cause pain, tingling sensations, and numbness to be felt in the adjoining hand. These symptoms can be referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome if they are severe enough.
So, as stated before, surgery might be necessary to create more space in the carpal tunnel so that the swollen tendons are no longer pressed on the median nerve. This is called carpal tunnel release surgery.
The Basics of Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
Carpal tunnel release surgery is a pretty short and easy surgery (at least for the surgeon). But it’s relatively easy on you, as well. There is no overnight hospital stay and the surgery itself only takes about 30 minutes. The surgery is an “out-patient” procedure and the incision made is not too deep or extensive.
This procedure is also considered very effective! Studies have shown that this surgery has a 75-90% clinical success rate.
Like any surgery, there is the risk of complications – but with carpal tunnel release surgery, the most common complication is infection at the surgical site. Your surgeon will likely prescribe you some antibiotics to help with this.
Recovery Time and What Comes Next
Recovering from carpal tunnel surgery can vary depending upon what you do for a living. If your job requires manual labor, you might need to wait 6 to 8 weeks before returning to work. However, if your job doesn’t require manual labor, you could return to work as early as a week or two after the surgery.
As always, recovery time varies upon each individual and how the surgery went. However, there are a few ways to help with the success of your recovery:
- Icing the surgical site
- Keeping your hand elevated
- Wearing shoes or clothing that is easy to remove one-handed
Hand therapy is also a great option for those who are healing from surgery. Your therapist could provide you with a custom splint designed to help your hand heal faster, as well as use gentle techniques specifically for those with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Also, hand therapy is often recommended as an alternative to surgery if the symptoms are not too severe.
If your only treatment option for your carpal tunnel syndrome is surgery, it will be okay. By not postponing the treatment and by preparing ahead of time for recovery, the surgery will not seem as overwhelming. Overall, the relief provided from the treatment will make a huge difference in your daily life.