Do I Need Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most people don't know that carpal tunnel syndrome can affect up to 5% of the adult population. They view the soreness in their arm and wrist as an annoyance more than a problem, but if ignored, the symptoms can worsen, and an orthopedic hand surgery may be required to relieve the pain. This is why it is essential to understand the syndrome, recognize the signs, and take action before there is severe pain.
The Basics of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When the median nerve endures a lot of pressure, it can develop into carpal tunnel syndrome. Ligaments and bones surround the narrow passageway of the carpal tunnel on the palm side of the hand. When these compress the median nerve, various symptoms are experienced, including numbness, tingling, and weakness. Here are a few things to try when these symptoms first appear.
Pay attention to activities when the symptoms are most pronounced and take frequent breaks when performing these activities.
Avoid repetitive wrist and hand movements.
Keep the wrist in a neutral position when possible (adaptive workspace, if needed).
Don't hold objects in one position for too long.
Avoid power tools that vibrate (i.e., sanders, jackhammers).
Relax the grip or force level during hand activities such as writing.
Try not to sleep with hands or wrists in a bent position.
Proper Treatment Will Restore Normal Functions
If these symptoms persist and hinder daily functions, contact a doctor. It is crucial to seek treatment early because there is a risk of permanent damage to the muscles and nerves. The non-surgical treatments may include the following.
Resting the wrist and hand for at least two weeks
Wearing a wrist brace or splint
Doing wrist, hand, or finger stretching exercises
Steroid injections to relieve pain
Using cold compresses to reduce swelling
Using hot compresses to reduce pain
Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications
Massaging the palms, wrists, and back of hands
When Do You Need Surgery?
If non-surgical treatments do not relieve the symptoms, orthopedic hand surgery may become an option. The decision to opt for a surgical procedure will depend on the severity of pain and numbness experienced. An orthopedic hand surgeon can perform the surgical procedure. The goal of the surgery is to relieve pressure on the median nerve. There are two main types of surgeries:
Open Carpal Tunnel Release. In this surgery, the doctor will incise the palm and increase the tunnel's size while reducing pressure on the median nerve. After the surgery, the ligaments take time to grow back, and the result will be more space in the carpal tunnel.
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release. The doctor will make one or two small skin incisions during this surgery and use an endoscope to look inside the wrist. Then the doctor will use a knife to divide the tunnel and make more space. The outcome is the same as the previous surgery.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, PA
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment. If surgery is recommended, contact Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, PA. Our hand specialist, Dr. Mark Perlmutter, has years of experience dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. If you're ready to stop the pain, contact us at 252-443-0400 for an appointment.