What is a Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Carpal tunnel surgery, also known as carpal tunnel release surgery, is a procedure performed to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist’s carpal tunnel, becomes compressed or pinched, leading to pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers. Carpal tunnel surgery is usually considered when conservative treatments have not provided sufficient relief.

What are the Different Types of Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

  1. Open Carpal Tunnel Release: This is the traditional surgical approach. A small incision is made at the base of the palm to access the carpal tunnel. The transverse carpal ligament, which forms the roof of the tunnel, is then partially or fully divided to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
  2. Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release: In this minimally invasive approach, a tiny camera (endoscope) and special instruments are inserted through one or two small incisions. The surgeon performs the release while watching the internal view on a screen.

What is the Carpal Tunnel Surgery Procedure like?

  • Carpal tunnel surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia.
  • The surgeon identifies and cuts the transverse carpal ligament to release pressure on the median nerve.
  • The procedure usually takes around 20-30 minutes, but this can vary based on the approach and individual factors.

What is the Recovery for Carpal Tunnel Surgery like?

  • After surgery, the hand and wrist are bandaged, and a splint or brace may be applied to support the wrist.
  • Most people can start moving their fingers soon after surgery, and gentle hand exercises are often encouraged to prevent stiffness.
  • Full recovery can take several weeks to a few months, depending on the individual and the type of surgery.

What are the Benefits of Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

  • Symptom Relief: The primary benefit of carpal tunnel surgery is relief from the pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Improved Function: Surgery can help restore normal hand function, allowing individuals to perform daily activities without discomfort.
  • Prevention of Further Nerve Damage: Surgery can prevent long-term nerve damage caused by prolonged compression of the median nerve.

What is the Risk of Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

  • As with any surgery, there are potential risks, including infection, scarring, nerve or blood vessel injury, and incomplete symptom relief.
  • Recovery time and outcomes can vary based on the individual’s overall health, the severity of their condition, and the surgical approach used.

Carpal tunnel surgery is generally considered a safe and effective option for individuals with severe carpal tunnel syndrome that doesn’t respond to conservative treatments. However, the decision to undergo surgery should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider who can provide personalized advice based on the individual’s medical history and condition.