Carpal tunnel release surgery isn’t always necessary because for many patients, the pain, tingling and numbness caused by carpal tunnel syndrome can be eased through conservative treatments.
In some cases, however, nonsurgical methods simply don’t help. When symptoms persist after trying other treatment measures, carpal tunnel release surgery may be recommended.
Two Types of Surgical Procedures
During surgery, the hand surgeon cuts through the carpal ligament to create more room for the median nerve and tendons. The procedure may be performed in two different ways:
- Open release surgery — The hand surgeon makes an incision up to 2 inches long along the wrist and through the underlying tissues to reach the carpal ligament. This is the traditional surgical procedure, and it is usually performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
- Endoscopic release surgery — The hand surgeon makes one or two small incisions about ½ inch long in the wrist and/or palm. To reach and cut the carpal ligament, tiny surgical tools are guided through a narrow tube inserted into the incision. Like open surgery, endoscopic surgery is an in-office procedure typically done under local anesthesia.
Recovery from Carpal Tunnel Surgery
After surgery, the wrist is placed in a heavy bandage or splint for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks — the amount of time depends upon the particulars of the patient’s surgical procedure. While the wrist is wrapped, the patient is encouraged to move their fingers to prevent stiffness.
Pain is often controlled through medication, though elevating the wrist and applying ice also help to reduce post-surgical discomfort.
Once the wrap is removed, physical therapy exercises may be advised to speed healing and strengthen the finger, hand and wrist muscles.
Results from Carpal Tunnel Surgery
In most cases, symptoms disappear after surgery. Full recovery from the procedure may take just a few days, but some patients aren’t symptom-free for a few months. The recovery time depends upon how badly the nerve was damaged.
A small number of patients find that surgery doesn’t relieve their symptoms. The pain, tingling and numbness may not go away, or they may return at some point. The chance of success is greater if surgical treatment is completed in the earlier stages.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States. If you’re thinking about pursuing this treatment option, you’ll want to find a hand surgeon with extensive experience. In northern Utah, the go-to expert is Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence.
As a leading fellowship-trained, board-certified hand surgeon with more than two decades of experience serving the greater Salt Lake City area, Dr. Burrows has the skills and training to successfully complete your carpal tunnel release surgery. To schedule an appointment, contact our West Valley City, Utah, office today.