What Is The Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. Like the name states, the carpal tunnel is a passage in the wrist formed by small carpal bones. The top portion of the passage is formed by the transverse carpal ligament, a collection of connective tissues located in the wrist. These bones and tissues are connected to the median nerve, which travels down the arm to the hand and fingers. The hand and fingers have additional tendons connected to the median nerve that controls movement.
When nerves swell
When the nerves begin to swell, narrowing the tunnel, the median nerve becomes stressed. This causes issues in the wrist and hand. People with carpal tunnel syndrome may notice some of the following symptoms:
Reasons for surgery
Carpal tunnel surgery is seen as a last resort for people suffering from this condition. Physicians typically will try a few different non-surgical treatments before resorting to surgery. For instance, doctors may suggest wearing a wrist splint while sleeping. Some providers prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications or corticosteroid injections.
Surgery comes into play when the symptoms from carpal tunnel syndrome become untreatable through other avenues and nerve damage occurs. A thorough physical examination will determine the severity of carpal tunnel syndrome. From there, a physician may refer to a surgeon.
Once surgery becomes the necessary course of action, doctors choose between two different types: minimally invasive surgery or open surgery. During a minimally invasive endoscopic surgical procedure, doctors use an endoscope, a small telescope with a camera lens, to inspect the carpal tunnel and cut the ligament.
Open surgery requires the doctor to make an incision at the base of the hand and cut the median nerve, allowing the nerve to heal. While performing either of these procedures, doctors use local anesthesia to sedate the patient. Local anesthesia doesn’t make the patient drowsy but numbs the area so the patient doesn’t feel much pain during the surgery.
What’s the best option?
Using anesthesia during surgery is a standard procedure for most healthcare providers. Minimally invasive carpal tunnel surgery typically uses local anesthesia. Patients can speak with a healthcare provider to learn more about surgery, anesthesia, and side effects.