We might not notice this, but we use our hands at every moment. Thus, disorders here can disturb our lives and careers. One of these is carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel includes the vital nerves and tendons in the wrists that allow the fingers to move. But if this section is strained or injured, it can get harshly painful. This disorder is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
Physicians say that this comes from strenuous motion, sprain, fractures, and injuries in the hands. Some studies also relate carpal tunnel syndrome to arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid hormonal imbalance.
Genetics also plays a role. Some people are more prone to this disorder because they have smaller carpal tunnels.
In this article, you will learn what to expect after carpal tunnel surgery. You will also gain an insight into the basic facts of this procedure.
In the next two weeks following the operation, you will wear something on your hand. These include a splint, a heavy bandage, or supportive gear.
Your wrist will be painful after the surgery. But the surgeon will prescribe pain medication to control it.
He will also tell you tips to speed up recovery. For example, Slightly moving your fingers can help relax the muscles and avoid stiffness. Also, elevate your hand while you sleep to relieve inflammation.
You and the surgeon will meet again for an appointment for the bandage to be removed. Physical therapy sessions will follow. Here, a specialist will help improve and strengthen your hand movements through exercises.
During this period, you need to adjust your work responsibilities and patterns. The surgery will restrict how you use your hand, and you might still need to wear braces and splints.
If complications arise, immediately contact your surgeon. These issues include fever, infections, unbearable pain, swelling, and bleeding.
The surgeon may conduct either open surgery or an endoscopic procedure.
- During open surgery, the surgeon cuts the wrist to perform the treatment.
- An endoscopic procedure involves an endoscope, a tube with a camera, and tiny cuts. Through these, the surgeon inserts the tools into the incisions with the guidance of the camera.
Whether the surgery is open or endoscopic, the procedure follows a straightforward sequence.
- The patient will wear a hospital gown.
- Once they are in the surgical site, the patient will receive anesthesia.
- The surgeon will make the incisions to access the carpal tunnel.
- He will cut the ligaments hitting the carpal tunnel. Doing this helps the nerves and tendons regain their functions.
- He will stitch and close the cuts.
- Finally, the surgeon will place a splint on the hand.
Carpal tunnel surgery is an outpatient operation. So, if it is successful, you can go home on the same day. But if there are complications or immediate side effects, you might need to stay at the hospital overnight.
This procedure is the last resort. If a physician diagnoses you with carpal tunnel syndrome, you will receive nonsurgical interventions first. These treatments include pain relievers, therapies, special equipment, or steroid shots.
Unfortunately, these may not work. The pain might become too severe, and the electromyography test results may show that surgery is required. The carpal tunnel syndrome might even get worse to the point that the hands become weak already.
If the symptoms ultimately persist for six months despite the treatments, carpal tunnel surgery becomes necessary. This syndrome can get worse over time.
Like every surgery, this operation carries risks. The anesthesia that will keep you from feeling pain can give headaches and aches later on. But these are normal and expected.
The carpal tunnel surgery itself may pose complications. These risks include hemorrhaging, infections, scarring, and injuries to the nerves and blood vessels in the wrist.
Talk to your surgeon about the surgery’s benefits and risks to help you evaluate.
It is vital to consider that the side effects are rare. On the other hand, most patients who had mild carpal tunnel syndrome got cured after they recovered.
Before the procedure, you should do the following:
- Talk to your surgeon about the medications you have. This way, you can avoid chemicals, drugs, and supplements which increase risks. For example, ibuprofen and aspirin might make blood struggle to clot.
- Stop smoking before the surgery. This vice can affect your recovery after carpal tunnel surgery.
- Ask about the fasting requirements. The surgeon might direct you to refrain from eating for certain hours before the operation.
- Take the required tests. Follow the surgeon’s instructions about the examinations you need to take. These include blood tests and ECG tests.
As you consent to carpal tunnel surgery, you must know the essential information about the procedure. These include:
- The reason why you will undergo carpal tunnel surgery;
- The expected outcomes of the surgery;
- The possible advantages and complications of the surgery;
- The background and competence of the surgeon;
- The consequence of refusing to undergo carpal tunnel surgery;
- When the results of the surgery appear;
- The contact information of the surgeon;
- If there are alternatives to this operation;
- The cost of carpal tunnel surgery and related medications.
Recovery can last from days to months, depending on the nerve damage. The longer the carpal tunnel syndrome stayed, the longer it takes for the wrist to return to normal. Further treatments and therapies can speed up this process.
You should avoid straining your wounds. Instead, you should use your hands lightly. Treat them well as you recover.
Generally, you can gradually return to normal activities within two weeks. Remember to ask your surgeon regularly if you can perform specific tasks.
For example, you can drive a week after the surgery. You can write with that hand after a week. But it may take more than a month to do it with ease. Fully gaining the strength on that hand may take a minimum of three months.