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Carpal Tunnel Release

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common and often painful condition. It happens when the median nerve in your wrist is compressed. When carpal tunnel syndrome continues to affect your daily life, your doctor may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

As carpal tunnel syndrome progresses, it may cause symptoms, including:

  • Numbness in the fingers
  • Tingling sensation in the fingers
  • Pain or burning sensation in the wrist and hand
  • Pain that radiates up the arm
  • Weakness in the hand
  • Loss of grip strength

What caused my carpal tunnel syndrome?

In some cases, your doctor may not know the cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome. Some factors that increase your risk of the condition include:

  • Abnormalities present at birth
  • Repeated motion of your wrists and hands
  • Cyst or tumor in the wrist
  • Fracture or sprain in the wrist
  • Gout
  • Imbalances in hormones
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Overactive pituitary gland

How do I treat carpal tunnel syndrome?

Some non-surgical treatment options for your carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Addressing other medical conditions related to carpal tunnel
  • Ice packs
  • Rest and avoiding certain activities
  • Using a brace or splint
  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen your wrist
  • Medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, or diuretics

What is carpal tunnel release surgery?

If other treatments fail, your doctor may recommend carpal tunnel release surgery. This surgery can be performed traditionally or endoscopically. In traditional surgery, your surgeon makes a 2-inch incision on your wrist and palm. Endoscopic surgery uses a camera inserted through one or two incisions (typically half an inch in size).

During your surgery, the surgeon will make your carpal tunnel larger and release the pressure on your median nerve. Talk with your doctor to decide the right surgical option for your specific needs.

What are the risks of carpal tunnel surgery?

Typically, there are no complications after surgery. In rare cases, you may have:
  • Continuing pain
  • Scarring
  • Damage to the nerves that creates weakness or loss of feeling
  • Stiffness
  • Infection

What is the recovery like after carpal tunnel release surgery?

After surgery, your care team will work with you to manage pain and help you have a smooth recovery. In general, your surgeon may recommend the following to help you recover at home:

  • Keep your hand elevated
  • Use ice packs for swelling
  • Wear a splint
  • Care for your incision as directed
  • Attend physical therapy
  • Make healthy diet choices and avoid smoking