Why Would You Need Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
Carpal tunnel release is the surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Inflammation of the carpal tunnel in the wrist causes nerve pain, tingling, and numbness. If left untreated, this condition worsens and may lead to weakness or permanent hand dysfunction. These symptoms are incredibly distressing for patients who depend on typing or other activities with the fingers. A doctor will try non-surgical treatments first, but carpal tunnel surgery is recommended if these fail.
Some much-needed breathing room
Doctors use 2 methods to perform carpal tunnel release. The technique used plays a vital role in how soon patients can resume activities like typing on a computer. The traditional method is called open release, in which the surgeon will make a 2-3-inch incision on the wrist. Then, the surgeon cuts the carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel. With the endoscopic method, the surgeon will make 2 half-inch incisions on the wrist and palm. A tiny camera and light attached to a narrow tube called a scope go into 1 of the incisions. The scope guides the surgeon in inserting instruments and cutting the carpal tunnel through the other incision. Afterward, the hand and wrist will be placed in a splint or bandaged heavily to stabilize the wrist.
What can you expect after the surgery?
Pain and swelling are common in the first week of recovery, and the doctor will provide pain medication. Patients are also advised to keep the hand elevated at night to lessen swelling. In addition, moving the fingers is encouraged to prevent stiffness. The doctor will remove the stitches, bandage, or splint after 2 weeks. From there, the patient will begin physical therapy to help improve hand strength and wrist movement. This recovery period can last several weeks. Over these weeks, performing daily tasks and tasks like typing becomes easier and more manageable.
When can you type on your computer again?
Generally, patients are advised to wait after the 2-week healing period to try repeated hand movements, like typing and using a mouse. Lifting objects or striking keys applies more force which can increase swelling and pain, and delay healing. At 3-4 weeks, the patient should have enough physical therapy to endure typing. The minimally invasive method cuts this time significantly, with patients typing after just 2 weeks. A study found that typing speed can return within a 2-3-week period.
Is surgery a difference-maker?
Years of repetitive movement, like typing, can cause inflammation of the median nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. If left untreated, the weakness felt in hands can lead to reduced productivity. Carpal tunnel release can help give the nerve some extra space. Be prepared to rest for 2-3 weeks before spending hours typing or typing quickly. Resting well after surgery will set the patient up for years of reduced pain and better quality of life.