Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is Carpal Tunnel surgery?
It seems that surgery is the typical “first” option considered for many sufferer’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also known as “Carpal Tunnel release“. During Carpal Tunnel surgery, your surgeon cuts the transverse carpal ligament in your wrist to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. There are two approaches to this, open surgery and endoscopic surgery.
Would you like to know more about Carpal Tunnel Release surgery?
Open Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome starts with your surgeon making a large incision down your wrist. The next step, they will then cut the transverse carpal ligament in your wrist to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. After that, they stitch up the incision and you begin the healing process along with physical therapy. This is obviously the simplest procedure since it is a straight forward method. This form of release takes longer to heal, and is more prone scar tissue. Many surgeons believe it to be less effective than other surgical methods because of this. The extra scar tissue can build up in the healing wound and end up putting pressure back into the Carpal Tunnel, which would require follow up procedures. Some surgeons still don’t feel like it is that much different in result than endoscopic Carpal Tunnel surgery though, and can be done faster and less tedious.
Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel surgery is done creating a small incision in your wrist for “single-portal technique” or for “two-portal technique,” they cut one in your wrist and one in your palm. For the single-portal technique, the surgeon inserts a small tube containing cutting tools and a camera attached into the incision to see the inside of the wrist, then the cuts to your ligament are made with the small tools in the tube. For two-portal technique, the tools are inserted through one of the small incisions to make the cut to the ligament. Endoscopic, with the smaller incisions, leaves smaller and typically less painful scars to you than open surgery. This also allows it to heal faster than open surgery. The incision where the ligament was cut will begin to fill with scar tissue in the healing process. If to much scar tissue forms, you may need another procedure.
“Even Doctors admit that your wrists will never be normal.”
The pain and numbness may disappear immediately, or it could take several months to vanish. As for your ability to return to work, if it is your non-dominant hand, it could be as little as one to two days. However if it is in your dominant hand, it could be four or more weeks for you to return. If you do the surgery with combined therapy the healing process may be sped up. For you to reach your full potential recovery, it could take you up to a year after your surgery. The typical procedure, without insurance, can cost you upward of $7000. With insurance, the procedure can be $10 to $30 for the co-pay, and then your out-of-pocket fees can be up to $1000 or even higher. Statistically, only 70% people end up being satisfied with their surgery. Though 90% of people will end up showing no signs of night pain. Usually less than 1 out of 100 experience complications due to things like nerve damage, damage to blood vessels or tendons, infection, or risk due to general anesthesia, though most Endoscopic surgery is done with local anesthesia and not general anesthesia. The loss of wrist strength is a result from Carpal Tunnel release surgery experienced by as much as 30% of the patients. There is always a possibility of your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome returning after surgery, so follow up procedures may even be suggested to you.
Is surgery the right option to treat my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
It’s possible for you to need follow up surgeries because during the first procedure they may have not released the ligament enough, there may have been an extensive build up of scar tissue, or your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome may end up occurring again. Surgery should only be considered as a last effort option for your Carpal Tunnel, after a long period of nonsurgical treatment, the symptoms become severe, or after nerve damage may be discovered by your doctor. There is no proof which of the two types yield better results than the other, but if you come to this last resort option, things to ask your doctor would be which is better for you and what is their success rate with people with conditions similar to yours. This procedure can weaken your wrist strength, and it may never return to 100%, and further procedures will only make your wrists even worse. So if you do end up taking this treatment option, you are starting a path of no return, and eventually, nothing will help your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.