Carpal Tunnel Release
What is Carpal Tunnel Release?
Carpal tunnel release is a surgery to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pain and weakness in the hand that is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist.
What is the procedure of Carpal Tunnel Release?
Carpal Tunnel Release is done using a general or regional anesthetic. A regional anesthetic blocks the nerves going to only a portion of the body. Once you have anesthesia, your surgeon will make sure the skin of your palm is free of infection by cleaning the skin with a germ-killing solution.
A small incision is made in the palm of the hand, usually about one inch long. In some severe cases, a slightly longer incision is extended into the forearm. The incision makes the palmar fascia visible. This is a sheet of connective tissue in the palm and forearm right under the skin. The surgeon makes an incision through this material and exposes the carpal ligament.
Once the carpal ligament is being exposed, it is released using a scalpel or scissors. By cutting the carpal ligament, pressure is taken off the median nerve. Upon dividing the carpal ligament, the surgeon stitches just the skin together and leaves the loose ends of the carpal ligament separated. The loose ends are left apart to keep pressure off the median nerve. Eventually, the gap between the two ends of the ligament fills in with scar tissue. After the skin is stitched together, your hand will be wrapped in a bulky dressing.
Why Carpal Tunnel Release is performed?
Patients with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually try non-surgical treatments first. These are:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Workplace changes to improve your seating and how you use equipment at work
- Wrist splints
If none of the non-surgical treatment has helped in recovering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Release surgery may be recommended.
What should i do after Carpal Tunnel Release?
Do try to support your healing arm with your hand elevated above the level of your heart. You may be instructed to put an ice pack on your wrist several times a day to keep swelling down. Try to move your thumb and fingers around as to avoid the muscle to become stiff due to inactivity. Keep the dressing on your hand until you return to the surgeon. Avoid getting the stitches wet. Your stitches will be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.
Heavy gripping and pinching should be avoided for the first few weeks in order to let it recover. It is common to have tenderness in the area of the incision for several months after surgery. Patients who wait too long to seek medical advice sometimes have difficulty adjusting after surgery. Poor coping skills in the presence of persistent pain and numbness may result in disappointment or dissatisfaction with the results of surgery. Recovery may take longer than expected when nerve damage is severe.