Surgical Information – Procedures

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release

What is carpal tunnel release surgery?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist, which results in numbness and tingling in the hand. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed underneath a ligament in your wrist. Endoscopic carpal tunnel decompression surgery is a minimally invasive procedure performed to release the pressure on the nerve. The surgery involves making a 2-3 centimeter incision on your wrist. A small camera is then inserted into the wrist and used to cut the ligament.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and does not require an overnight hospital stay. Postoperatively a soft bandage is applied. Patients are allowed immediate use of the hand. Physical therapy is rarely needed. Patients can return to light activities in several days and to heavy lifting/gripping within 4-6 weeks.Performing the procedure endoscopically allows quicker recovery than open carpal tunnel release.

Anatomy

The carpal tunnel is a narrow structure at the base of the palm. It is formed by the bones of the wrist and a strong band of connective tissue called the transverse carpal ligament. Increased pressure in the tunnel affects the function of the median nerve. The median nerve controls feeling in the palm side of the thumb, index, long, and ring fingers. It also controls strength to the muscles of the hand.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand, wrist or forearm, and all non-surgical methods of treatment have failed – including wrist splinting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and injectable corticosteroids – then you should consider carpal tunnel release surgery. A nerve conduction study is usually obtained prior to surgery to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the recovery time?

Following surgery, soreness around the incision may last for several weeks or months. There are no restrictions on activities. However, heavy gripping and lifting may cause pain for awhile. Numbness and tingling may disappear quickly or slowly, and it may take several months for strength in the hand and wrist to return to normal. Carpal tunnel symptoms may not completely go away after surgery, especially in severe cases. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.

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