You’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome for quite a while. You’ve tried wearing a splint and have had injections and physical therapy, but you can’t shake this disabling condition. Conservative treatments just haven’t worked for you.
If you’re looking at surgery, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Coastal Empire Orthopedics performs many carpal tunnel operations that restore the use of patients' hands.
If your carpal tunnel didn’t resolve with conservative treatment, you might have waited too long to seek treatment initially. The condition worsens over time if left untreated.
You may work in an environment that requires repetitive wrist and/or hand use. You may use vibrating tools frequently if you're a carpenter, construction worker, warehouse, or factory worker. It may be difficult for you to avoid wrist and hand motions in your work. Vibrating tools can cause carpal tunnel, partly because of the tight grip you need to use; it places extra stress on the nerves in your hand.
Repetitive motions can result in inflammation of the median nerve. Musicians and painters may also be more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. A hobby you love, such as knitting, may lead to the condition.
Genetics plays a part in carpal tunnel, also. Your carpal tunnel, the narrow passageway your median nerve must go through in your wrist to enter your hand, can simply be smaller than that of other individuals. The nerve can get irritated more easily than someone with a larger passageway.
If you have diabetes, thyroid disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, you may also be more at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
You’ve completed a medical history questionnaire. You’ve listed all of the medicines you take. If you didn’t include the nonprescription items in the history, like supplements, vitamins, herbal remedies, or over-the-counter pain relievers, be sure to tell us if you’re taking any of them. You’ll need to stop taking drugs like NSAIDs and aspirin before the surgery because they can cause excessive bleeding.
Smoking retards healing. Ideally, we’d like you to stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery. Both our staff and you want the best outcome possible after your surgery.
Depending on your medical history, you may need a blood test or electrocardiogram before the surgery.
As usual before surgery, you won’t be able to eat or drink for at least six hours before the operation, especially if you have general anesthesia. We provide written pre- and post-procedure instructions.
Carpal tunnel surgery is normally an outpatient procedure, meaning you’ll go home after the surgery. You may be able to avoid general anesthesia if your condition permits and if you’re comfortable with a local anesthesia to your arm and hand. If the surgery is more complex or you don’t want to be awake, you may need general anesthesia, in which case we operate at the hospital.
Your wrist area is bandaged and may be in a splint for a week or two. Keeping your hand elevated, including while you sleep, helps limit swelling. You can take pain relievers for any discomfort in the first couple of weeks.
Once the initial healing is completed, you’ll have physical therapy to help you regain your range of motion. If you need a note excusing you from work duties, we provide a letter.
Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment online if you have an unexplained or undiagnosed hand or wrist pain.