Carpal Tunnel Release with LA Orthopedic Group can return you to your daily activities.
Carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure usually handled on an outpatient basis, in which the pressure and tension of ligaments are released and the compression of the median nerve is reduced. By cutting the ligament that forms the top of the carpal tunnel, pressure is relieved.
- Either hand can be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome, but the dominant hand usually develops symptoms more severely
- The peak age for carpal tunnel syndrome is 45 to 60 years old
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Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel of the wrist. It is characterized by pain, numbness, and abnormal skin sensations sometimes accompanied by changes in the ability to use the affected hand. Patients have reported dropping things and things slipping from their fingers. A feeling of swelling and tightness in the hand is also reported. Causes of the condition are unclear but risk factors include genetic predisposition and other medical issues related to the nerves. Previous injury to the wrist such as a sprain or fracture may be a factor. Symptoms are usually associated with specific activities such as driving, painting, and typing.
Understanding Carpal Tunnel Release
Carpal tunnel release can be achieved in one of two ways. An open carpal tunnel release is performed by cutting the wrist open with an incision approximately two inches in length. An endoscopic carpal tunnel release requires the use of a camera to guide the surgeon’s tools. This method only requires two half inch incisions, one on the wrist and the other in the palm of the hand.
In both cases, any incisions are closed with stitches and a splint will be placed on the hand and wrist to prevent movement. In most cases, patients are allowed to go home the same day. The risks associated with the procedure are bleeding, infection, injuries to blood vessels or nerves, and a sensitive scar as well as the usual risks associated with anesthesia.
Recovery from the surgery may take up to several months depending on the severity and length of time the nerve was allowed to remain compressed. For the first week or two after surgery, the hand and wrist will most likely be in a splint or heavy bandage to prevent movement and infection. Pain medications may be needed during this time and you may be asked to keep the hand elevated as much as possible.
Physical therapy is a part of the treatment plan after surgery to increase strength in the wrist and hand. A therapist will teach exercises to improve movement of the wrist and hand while promoting speed in healing. A splint or brace may be needed for up to a month after surgery.