Hand Surgery

Carpal tunnel

When should I consider carpal tunnel surgery?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on your median nerve. This is what gives you feeling in your thumb and all your fingers except your pinky. When the nerve goes through your wrist, it passes through the carpal tunnel - a narrow path that’s made of bone and ligament. If you get any swelling in your wrist, that tunnel gets squeezed and pinches your median nerve. That, in turn, causes your symptoms. Over time carpal tunnel syndrome can weaken the muscles of your hand.

You should consider surgery if:

  • Other treatments like braces, corticosteroids, and changes to your daily routine haven’t helped
  • You have experienced pain, numbness, and tingling lasting more than 6 months
  • You find it harder to grip, grasp, or pinch objects like you once did

What surgical options are available?

There are two main types of carpal tunnel release surgery - open and endoscopic. In both cases, your surgeon cuts the ligament around the carpal tunnel to take pressure off the median nerve and relieve your symptoms. After the surgery, the ligament comes back together, but with more room for the median nerve to pass through. The most common surgical treatment is open surgery involves a cut, or incision - up to 2 inches from your wrist to your palm.

Following surgery - what to expect

Following surgery, your hand and wrist will be bandaged to protect the site of the surgery. You will be advised to elevate your hand using a sling which will help in reducing swelling, improving pain and helps in healing. You will have limited use of your hand in the first few days/week, other than keeping your fingers moving. The pain in the first 24 hours is best managed by taking regular paracetamol. Gradually as the suture line heals you will be able to increase the use of your hand, including driving and writing. The carpal tunnel symtoms you had prior to surgery will gradually resolve as the swelling goes down and there is more room for the nerve previously compressed. Sutures may be dissolvable or require removal after 10 days post surgery. Post operative instructions are provided including massaging the scar to keep it soft.