Carpal tunnel release surgery is only considered for patients who do not get relief of symptoms from nonsurgical measures. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis for most patients.
Why is carpal tunnel release surgery done?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the tissues (synovium) around the flexor tendons and median nerve swell and cause pressure. These synovial tissues lubricate the tendons so the fingers can move easily. Over time, this swelling narrows the small space of the carpal tunnel and crowds the nerve.
Who is a candidate for carpal tunnel release surgery?
Candidates for carpal tunnel release surgery include those who:
- Do not respond to conservative treatment (physical therapy and medications).
- Have constant numbness and wasting of the thumb muscles.
How do I prepare for the surgery?
Before you undergo carpal tunnel release surgery, notify the doctor of all medicines you are taking. Certain blood-thinning agents must be held for 7 days before the scheduled procedure. Arrange for someone to drive you from the hospital, and do not eat or drink for 8 hours before the surgery.
Will I be given anesthesia?
The outpatient procedure only takes around 60 minutes. Before the surgery, you are given general anesthesia (put to sleep), which prevents pain and movement during the surgery.
How is carpal tunnel release performed?
There are two ways to perform the procedure:
- Open carpal tunnel release – The surgeon will use a needle to administer a local anesthetic. A small cut is made in your palm, and the surgeon divides the transverse carpal ligament (roof of the carpal tunnel). A ligament is also cut from inside the carpal tunnel to speed up recovery, and tissue around the nerve is removed.
- Endoscopic carpal tunnel release – With this procedure, the surgeon makes a small cut in the palm region of the hand, and inserts a small endoscope into the wrist. This tube has an attached camera and light so the surgeon can view images on a monitor. Small tools are inserted so the surgeon can cut the carpal ligament.
What is involved in the recovery process?
Immediately after surgery, you must frequently elevate your hand on pillows to reduce swelling and prevent stiffness. Some pain, stiffness, and swelling can be expected after the procedure. You are required to wear a wrist brace for 2-3 weeks, and you can use your hand normally.
Expect some soreness of the palm for several weeks, as well as pinching and griping weakness (will last for around 6 months). In addition, light gripping and lifting, self-care activities, and driving are permitted soon after the procedure.
What are the long-term outcomes of the procedure?
The majority of people’s symptoms improve after carpal tunnel release surgery. However, recovery is gradual. On the average, pinch and grip strength returns by the second month following the procedure. For optional recovery, physical therapy is prescribed.
What are the home care instructions?
It will take around 4 weeks to fully recover. For a full recovery, the patient should:
- Take medications as prescribed.
- Apply ice packs to the wrist and hand every few hours.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Elevate the hand and wrist frequently.
What are the risks and complications of the carpal tunnel release procedure?
All surgeries carry some risks. With carpal tunnel release surgery, risks include infection, nerve damage, bleeding, and allergic reaction to solutions and medications. Be sure to notify the Gilbert orthopedic doctor if you experience intense pain, fever, chills, unusual redness or swelling, chest pain, and/or shortness of breath.
At OSPI, top hand surgeons offer carpal tunnel release procedures for the entire East Valley including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and surrounding areas. Most insurance is accepted, and appointments are readily available. Call today for the top hand surgeons Arizona trusts!