Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Every day, the average person uses both hands and wrists to operate laptops, cell phones, machines, and much more. For millions, constant use can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is inflammation of the median nerve. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel located in the wrist and spreads to the fingers. Sometimes, the tunnel becomes inflamed, pressing on the nerve. The result is pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. Besides overuse, other risk factors include obesity, arthritis, medications, and medical conditions.
Turning to surgery
Most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome do not need surgery. Patients respond well to medication, steroid injections, and occupational and physical therapy. Chronic, severe cases that don’t respond to treatment can benefit from endoscopic surgery. An orthopedic surgeon uses a small device with a camera attached called an endoscope. The surgeon cuts away some of the inflamed transverse ligament through the same small incision or a second incision. After recovery, endoscopic surgery brings much-needed relief, particularly for the following 4 activities.
1. Regaining grip strength
Grip strength is essential every day, from holding a pen to opening a jar. A common symptom of carpal tunnel is the gradual loss of grip strength. Carpal tunnel reduces nerve function, which is essential for sending signals to the muscles. As a result, patients cannot hold even small objects for long periods. After healing and recovery, patients may see an improvement in grip strength.
2. Dressing becomes easier
The pain, numbness, and discomfort increase as the condition progresses. Over time, patients can even lose strength and coordination in the fingers. Fingers help with dressing, such as zippers, buttons, and shoelaces. Using the fingers is easier since there’s less nerve pain and getting dressed is no longer a chore.
3. Regain typing speed
Millions of Americans use computers for work, business, and social ventures. While typing is essential, the practice is often a risk factor for carpal tunnel. Over time, carpal tunnel decreases both typing speed and ability. Studies show that in as little as 3 weeks after surgery, patients saw improvement with increased rates after 3 months.
4. Lift heavier for longer
Moderate to severe carpal tunnel limits the ability to lift objects. In some cases, the pain can move to the arm, making holding objects for long periods difficult. Surgery can reduce the pain, numbness, and weakness common with lifting objects. Along with physical therapy, patients should be able to lift simple things for longer.
Enjoy the benefits
Endoscopic surgery can help with a severe carpal tunnel that does not respond to treatment. The surgery means faster recovery, fewer scars, and postoperative pain. Best of all, surgery can improve the quality of life. Simple activities like grip strength, lifting, and typing improve after recovery. Endoscopic surgery improves not only the pain but the quality of life.