Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal tunnel release is a type of surgery that is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel occurs when pressure is placed on the median nerve in the wrist. This pressure causes pain and weakness in the hand. In this article you will learn about the causes and symptoms of carpal tunnel, how carpal tunnel is diagnosed, and the treatment and recovery time for carpal tunnel surgery.

What causes carpal tunnel?

As mentioned earlier, carpal tunnel is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. This nerve stretches from your forearm through your wrist to your hand. The median nerve gives nerve signals to the muscles surrounding the base of your thumb. Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, if you fracture your wrist, that can irritate the nerves. Oftentimes there is not a single cause for carpal tunnel. You can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from a combination of risk factors. Therefore, if you think you have carpal tunnel, make sure to visit your doctor so they can take a closer look at your symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel?

Usually, carpal tunnel symptoms start off gradually and progress as time goes on. Some common symptoms include:

  • Numbness and/or tingling. You might feel numbness or tingling especially in your thumb, index, middle, or ring fingers. It might even feel like electric shocks to your fingers and can even travel up your wrist to your arm.
  • Fingers feel swollen even though they don’t look swollen. 
  • Weakness. You might experience weakness in your hands because your thumb’s pinching muscles are controlled by the median nerve.
  • Difficulty gripping or pinching. You might drop things more often because your muscles are numb and weak. You find it harder to make a fist with your hand. You have difficulty holding onto small objects. 

How is carpal tunnel diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor. At your appointment, your doctor will conduct a series of questions and tests to determine if you do in fact suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. 

    • Medical history. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have been experiencing to try to narrow down your diagnoses. 
  • Physical exam. Your doctor will physically examine your fingers, hand, and wrist. Through this examination, your doctor will test your muscle strength and try to figure out what actions trigger your symptoms. 
  • X-ray. In some cases, your doctor might order an X-ray for your wrist to rule out other possible wrist issues, like fractures. 
  • Nerve conduction study. This study is a variation of electromyography. A small shock goes through the median nerve to see how the electrical impulses in the carpal tunnel react. This test can be used to diagnose carpal tunnel or rule out other possible health issues.
  • Electromyography. This is a type of test that measures the small electrical discharges that come from your muscles. This test can identify muscle damage and rule out other possible health conditions. 

How is carpal tunnel treated?

Don’t delay treatment! It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you start carpal tunnel treatment, the simpler the treatment is. Possible treatments include:

  • Give your hand a break and rest more 
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, to reduce pain
  • Avoid doing activities that cause pain and increase your symptoms
  • Ice your hands to reduce swelling
  • Splint your wrist to help relieve symptoms
  • Get cortisone shots to relieve pain
  • For more severe carpal tunnel cases, you might need surgery to relieve the pressure on your ligament 

Carpal tunnel surgery recovery time

If you do require surgery to alleviate carpal tunnel pain, here are some things you should know regarding carpal tunnel surgery. 

    • Endoscopic vs. open surgery. For endoscopic surgery, your surgeon will use a telescopic-like device with a tiny camera to see inside your carpal tunnel. Then, the will cut the ligament in your hand or wrist with one or two small incisions. For open surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in your palm and cut through the ligament to free up the nerve. 
    • Surgery risks. Some surgery risks include an incomplete release of the ligament, infection, nerve or blood vessel injuries, or permanent scarring. 
  • Recovery time. Recovery time after carpal tunnel surgery typically takes several months; however, the skin will start to heal within the first few weeks after surgery. During this healing time, the ligament tissues will slowly start to grow back together, giving the nerves more space. 

Treating carpal tunnel at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants

Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that must be treated as quickly as possible before it progresses into something worse. At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, we understand how stressful it can be to suffer from carpal tunnel and not get the high-quality treatment that you deserve. Here, we have an amazing group of specialists and surgeons that will help you get back to your normal everyday activities without experiencing pain in your hands or wrists. 

If you are suffering from symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, contact us today to book an appointment!

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.