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Why Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
Over 400,000 Americans need carpal tunnel surgery yearly. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when inflamed tendons rest on the median nerve of the wrist. The main cause of carpal tunnel surgery is repetitive wrist action. Carpal tunnel also develops from poor wrist position or diseases like diabetes. Pain, discomfort, and a loss of grip strength occurs. If nonsurgical treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome fails, surgery is the best option.
Prepping for the knife
Before surgical procedures, patients should stop behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol. Surgeons also suggest patients stop medications prone to blood clotting. Have a big lunch the day before. Patients should stop eating and drinking 12 hours before surgery. Carpal tunnel release surgery happens using two basic surgical procedures.
Open Tunnel surgery
Open surgery clears the passage for the median nerve. A surgeon makes a two-inch incision down the palm or wrist exposing the carpal tunnel. Now the surgeon can make the necessary incisions to the surrounding tendons. The median nerve should now have the breathing room needed to perform better. Finally, stitches close up the incision.
The surgery with a camera
A surgeon can also perform endoscopic surgery. The procedure involves small incisions in the wrist and palm. The surgeon can then insert a small camera to see the underside of the ligament. Next, surgical tools cut away the tendon obstructing the median nerve. After the repairs, the surgeon stitches up the incision.
The surgery’s done: what’s next
Carpal tunnel surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients can leave the same day. The hand and wrist remain bandaged for the first two weeks. Until then, doctors prescribe pain medication to aid the recovery process. Patients also get information on bandage care, using ice packs and physical therapy care.
Can surgery bring complications
Carpal tunnel surgery has an excellent success rate of over 90%. Yet surgeries bring a possibility of complications. Fever, soreness at the point of surgery, and bleeding are possible. The adjacent nerves and tendons can damage during the process. In rare cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can reoccur. However, carpal tunnel surgery complications are rare.
Sit back, relax and recover!
The recovery time for carpal tunnel surgery varies. Surgery on the dominant hand has a longer recovery time than the non-dominant hand. Patients should take time to rest for the weeks after the procedure.
How to gradually resume everyday life.
Light activities like driving are possible after one week of surgery. Writing with the dominant hand is possible after 2-4 weeks without discomfort. Lifting, pushing and pulling large loads should get easier after two months. If jobs require heavy use of hands, doctors will recommend extended time off.
Overcoming carpal tunnel surgery
The total recovery time can be up to 12 weeks. Recovery is dependent on key factors including age and the degree of damage. However, patients take several months or up to a year to experience the full benefits of the surgery. With successful carpal tunnel surgery, simple tasks like writing become a joy again.