By Dr. Shailesh Jain, Neurosurgery,
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterized by a numbness, pain and tingling that occurs in the fingers caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve when it moves through the wrist passes through a narrow pathway of bone and ligament. This is the carpal tunnel. Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include wrist braces and corticosteroids but if the pain becomes too severe, then surgery is an option you need to look into.
If the pain persists for long, then it will become quite unbearably severe and can lead to the weakening of the muscles in your wrist. To avoid such extreme results, it is advisable to opt for surgery.
There are two kinds of carpal tunnel surgery. They are endoscopic and open surgery. Although for both types, the ligament surrounding the carpal tunnel is cut to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. Post surgery the ligament reattaches itself but with more space for the passage of the median nerve.
- Open surgery: The cut that is made is usually larger in the case of an open surgery. The incision could be about two inches in length from the wrist to the palm.
- Endoscopic Surgery: The incisions are smaller, being about half-inch in length. An endoscope is then guided through this incision to evaluate how much of the ligament should be cut.
Risks and Results
With any kind of surgery there are associated risks. The risks of carpal tunnel surgery include bleeding, damage to the nerves and blood vessels near the median nerve. Post surgery the scar from the operation may hurt too much or might get infected if the necessary precautions aren’t taken.
Surgery yields permanent results when it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome. In most cases, the symptoms do not recur after surgery. Although isolated cases have reported that a mild tingling and numbness occurs from time from time.
Post Surgery Guidelines
Though the surgery might relieve your pain symptoms on the same day as your operation, a full recovery will take longer. Medications to control the stiffness and swelling caused by the procedure will be prescribed. The wrist will remain bandaged for at least 1-2 weeks. During this period, it is best to not exert the muscles of your wrist by driving or writing. Avoid pulling, pinching or gripping something with too much force. You will also be instructed to exercise your fingers lightly and in particular patterns. Whether you will need further physiotherapy will be determined by your physician once your bandage has been removed.
The intent behind surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is to avoid extreme pain and the incapacitation of one’s hand. Minimally invasive, this surgery produces permanent results and facilitates quick recovery.