Carpal Tunnel Surgery
By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common issue. With the majority of workers spending all day at a computer, the cases of CTS is likely to continue to increase. There are several treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Some cases may even require Carpal Tunnel Surgery.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that affects the wrist and hand. In Latin, carpal means wrist. The bones and ligaments of the wrist form a tunnel. Tendons and nerves pass through the tunnel from the forearm to the hand. A major nerve that passes through the Carpal Tunnel is the Median Nerve. The Median Nerve supplies nerve connections to the skin of the hand on the thumb-side and to the first and second fingers.
Increased pressure inside the carpal tunnel can cause compression of the Median Nerve. This can limit the blood supply to the nerve. Median Nerve compression can lead to pain and loss of sensation in the hand. It can also lead to weakness in the hand.
What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes from increased pressure in the wrist. This can come from a tumor or a fracture of a bone around the wrist. The pressure may also occur from inflammation in the carpal tunnel. Resting the wrists on a keyboard for work can lead to swelling in the carpal tunnel. This is a repetitive stress injury to the wrist.
How do I know If I Have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Doctors can diagnose Carpal Tunnel Syndrome using specific tests. There are positions that they place wrist in to determine whether the Median Nerve is affected. Other tests may be used to determine whether there are issues with the nerve. These may include a Nerve Conduction Test. An MRI or X-ray may also be helpful in the diagnosis.
How do you Fix Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
There are treatment options available for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The first option is usually conservative. This may include getting a better keyboard for the computer. Changing the painful activity may help allow the inflammation to go down. Wrist splints are sometimes used to avoid irritating the area while it heals. Occupational therapy may be needed to help with positioning and mobility.
If this does not work, doctors may choose to use a steroid injection. Steroids can help to decrease swelling quickly. If steroid injections do not work, surgery may be needed.
What is Carpal Tunnel Surgery?
If your doctor determines that you need surgery, they may do a Carpal Tunnel Release. A Carpal Tunnel Release is a surgery in which a small opening is made over the front of the wrist. A small tool is used to cut some of the small fibers of the carpal tunnel ligament. This allows for more space in the carpal tunnel and decreases the pressure. This should decrease compression on the Nerve and relieve the symptoms. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks to recover. Work activity may be limited for a few weeks. Most patients do not need therapy after this surgery. This surgery usually requires Wide-Awake Anesthesia.
In more complicated cases, an Open-Release procedure may be used. This is less common. An Open-Release has longer recovery time and larger incision.
The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute has Orthopedic Surgeons and therapists who specialize in treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. From conservative management to advanced surgery, JOI has the answer for You! We also offer online appointments (telemedicine) and ASAP Fracture and Injury Services so that you can be seen quickly and safely.
To schedule an appointment in our offices or Online, Call JOI-2000 or click the link below.