When you’ve tried wrist braces, rest, and corticosteroids, and your carpal tunnel pain won’t go away, it’s time to consider surgery.
The pain related to carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by swollen tendons pressing on the median nerve. Carpal tunnel surgery relieves the pressure on the nerve to eliminate the pain.
Here’s what you need to know about surgery for your carpal tunnel syndrome pain.
Will Surgery Cure My Carpal Tunnel Pain?
Up to 90% of patients who have carpal tunnel release surgery find their symptoms relieved.
Carpal tunnel release surgery widens a channel in your wrist to allow additional space for your tendons. This should remove the pain you feel in your wrist and arm because more space means inflamed tendons will no longer cause this pressure.
What Happens During Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
The idea of having surgery can seem scary. Knowing what happens from the moment you arrive for your appointment will help to reduce your anxiety.
Before Your Operation
Once your physician agrees that surgery is the best route for you, an appointment will be made at the clinic.
You’ll meet with a plastic surgeon who is experienced in carpal tunnel procedures. Hand surgery is very complicated, so you can remain confident that your surgeon is very skilled and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
You’ll then be prepared for your operation. This will include wearing appropriate hospital gowns and removing any jewelry, to maintain a sterile environment.
How Long Does it Take?
While plastic surgery on hands is very complicated, carpal tunnel procedures are actually very quick. Your procedure should take no more than an hour in total.
The actual procedure takes about half an hour, plus the time it takes to prepare you for the surgery.
Do I Need General Anesthetic?
No. This is an out-patient procedure that doesn’t require you to have a general anesthetic.
You will be given an injection of local anesthetic into your arm before the procedure. If you are particularly anxious about having surgery, your physician may also prescribe a sedative to help you relax.
What Does the Surgeon Do?
A small incision is made in your wrist. This isn’t a very deep incision, as the ligaments and nerves that cause carpal tunnel pain are located near the surface.
The surgeon then carefully cuts into a ligament that sits near the median nerve. This will relieve the pressure that causes your pain and helps to add space around the nerve to prevent future problems if your tendons become inflamed.
You will receive a few stitches in the incision to close it.
How Long Is the Recovery Time?
Recovery from carpal tunnel release surgery can take anything from two weeks to eight weeks. You will have a post-operation follow up shortly after your procedure. Your physician will be able to advise on the rate of your healing.
There are things you can do, such as regular icing of the area and strict wound care around the incision, to prevent delays to your healing. Your physician will provide full details of proper post-operative care.
Do I Need to Take Time Off Work?
Yes, you will need to take some time off work. How long, however, depends on the type of work you do.
If you are a manual worker then you’ll need to book at least four weeks off work to ensure a full recovery. If you are an office worker or don’t do any heavy lifting for your job, you can go back as early as a week after your surgery.
Speak To a Physician About Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you think that carpal tunnel surgery could solve your long-term hand pain, speak to a physician experienced in hand surgery to find out whether the procedure is the best route for you.