What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located in the wrist that opens into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that puts pressure on the nerves running through the wrist that causes numbness and pins and needles, weakness and pain in the hand that may radiate up to the shoulder.
There are different causes or combinations of causes for carpal tunnel syndrome that include:
- Arthritis. In particular rheumatoid arthritis which can cause swelling and inflammation.
- Pregnancy due to a change in hormones that can cause fluid retention and compression of the nerve. This will usually remedy itself once the pregnancy is over.
- Wrist fractures which can cause irritation or reduce the amount of space in the carpal tunnel.
- Genetic factors
- Overuse. In particular awkward postures of the hand and wrist or repetitive hand movements.
Carpal Tunnel Release Quick Summary
What is carpal tunnel release surgery?
Carpal tunnel release is when surgery is used to take pressure off the median nerve. During surgery, the ligament around the carpal tunnel is cut, relieving symptoms. The ligament then re-joins after the surgery but with more room allowing the median nerve to pass through.
There are two different methods used for carpal tunnel release surgery:
- Open surgery. This method uses a large incision which runs up to 1 inch from the wrist to the palm.
- Endoscopic surgery. In this method, there is one incision in the wrist and possible one in the arm. These incisions are smaller – approximately .5 inch in length.
Dr. Verma will discuss each method and advise the most suitable for your individual treatment.
Where is it done?: Your carpal tunnel release surgery will be performed at Honeysuckle Day Hospital in Newcastle, a fully licensed and accredited day hospital which specializes in cosmetic and general surgery.
Length of surgery: Approximately 20- 30 minutes.
Type of anaesthesia: Local or General Anaesthesia
Day surgery or inpatient stay?: Day Surgery
Costs will vary depending upon the method. Dr Verma will discuss this with you at your consultation.
The carpal tunnel release surgery consultation
Who is a good candidate for carpal tunnel release surgery?
Sometimes carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated conservatively. However, if your condition has not responded to conservative treatment over time the muscles of your hands and wrists can become weakened. If your symptoms have continued for some time, or your symptoms have worsened you should consider carpal tunnel release surgery.
What to expect during the consultation?
During your consultation, Dr. Verma will take a medical history and will discuss the severity of your symptoms and the details of carpal tunnel release surgery ensuring your understanding of the procedure as well as the different methods of treatment available and expected recovery time.
Carpal tunnel release Surgery Procedure
Where will the incisions/scars be?
Incision locations will depend on which surgical method is used. Dr. Verma will discuss this with you at your consultation.
What type of Anaesthesia will be used?
The type of anaesthesia used is local or general anaesthesia.
What are the risks and complications of carpal tunnel release surgery?
With any surgical procedure, there are risks involved and most problems are easily treated and settle with time. Generally speaking, the surgery is quite safe.
General risks of any surgery include excessive bleeding, reaction to any of the medications (including anaesthesia), infection, poor healing or excessive scarring.
The occurrence of such complications depends mainly on whether you smoke, your general health status, how your body heals, as well as your post-operative recovery. Dr. Verma will discuss all risks and complications with you during a consultation, as well as techniques and medications which can minimize risks.
What are the side effects of carpal tunnel release surgery?
Particular side effects from carpal tunnel release surgery can include:
- Mild pain, discomfort, swelling
- Nerve injury
Recovery after Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
Care of your carpal tunnel releases and wounds
You will be provided with detailed instructions by Finesse Cosmetic Surgery with regards to care of your sutures, wounds etc.
If the surgery has been on your dominant hand it will take 6-12 weeks before you are able to return to full activity. Depending on your type of employment you may not be able to return back to your normal duties for a minimum of 1 month particularly if they include heavy lifting of actions that place pressure on the palm of the hand such as computer-based work or manual working with tools such as screwdrivers or hammers. Dr. Verma will discuss this with you at your consultation.
You should also include some gentle hand and wrist movements post surgery to stretch and strengthen. You will be provided instructions on stretching exercises.
When will you see results?
Full recovery will take between 6 – 12 weeks.
What will be your follow up schedule?
Dr. Verma will see you one week post the operation and then organize subsequent follow-ups according to how you recover. All routine follow up visits are bulk billed. Revision surgery for any complications carries an extra charge.
Similar to your consultation visit (see above), Dr. Verma will be taking photographs of your surgery in order to document its healing during follow up visits.
How long do the effects of carpal tunnel release surgery last for?
In most instances, the effects of carpal tunnel release surgery are permanent with a small chance of recurrence which is usually caused by an incomplete severing of the tendon during the release procedure.