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Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is done to release the nerve that is being pressed in the wrist region, relieving classic symptoms such as tingling or stinging sensation in the hand and fingers. This surgery is indicated when treatment with medications, immobilizers (orthoses) and physical therapy do not improve symptoms or when there is great compression on the nerve.
The surgery must be performed by the orthopedist, it is simple, it can be done under local or general anesthesia and promotes a complete and permanent cure. 48 hours for recovery to happen more easily.
How the surgery is performed
The surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome must be performed by the orthopedist and consists of making a small opening between the palm of the hand and the wrist to make a cut in the middle palmar aponeurosis, which is a membrane that covers the soft tissue and tendons present in the hand, which compresses the nerve, relieving pressure on it. Surgery can be performed with two different techniques:
- Traditional technique: the surgeon makes a large cut in the palm of the hand over the carpal tunnel and makes a cut in a membrane of the hand, the middle palmar aponeurosis, decompressing the nerve;
- Endoscopy technique: The surgeon uses a device with a small camera attached to view the inside of the carpal tunnel and makes an incision in the middle palmar aponeurosis, decompressing the nerve.
The surgery must be performed under anesthesia, which can be done locally only in the hand, near the shoulder or the surgeon may opt for general anesthesia. However, whatever the anesthesia, the person does not feel pain during the surgery.
Although it is a simple and safe surgery, surgery for carpal tunnel can also present some risks, such as infection, hemorrhage, nerve damage and persistent pain in the wrist or arm.
In addition, in some cases it is possible that, after surgery, symptoms such as tingling and feeling of needles in the hand do not disappear completely, and may return. Thus, it is very important to talk to the doctor about the real risks of the surgery, before doing the procedure.
Carpal tunnel surgery recovery
Recovery time varies depending on the type of technique used, but generally the recovery time for traditional surgery is slightly longer than the recovery time for endoscopic surgery. In general people who work in offices and have to keep typing need to be away from work for up to 21 days.
However, regardless of the technique used, in the postoperative period of carpal tunnel surgery it is important to take some precautions such as:
- Stay at rest and take medication prescribed by your doctor, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen to relieve pain and discomfort;
- Use a splint to immobilize the wrist to prevent damage from moving the joint for 8 to 10 days;
- Keep the operated hand raised for 48 hours to help reduce any swelling and stiffness in the fingers;
- After removing the splint, an ice pack can be placed on the site to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
It is normal for the first few days after the surgery to feel pain or weakness that can take a few weeks or even months to pass, however, with the doctor's guidance, the person can continue to use the hand to do activities light that do not cause pain or discomfort.
After the surgery, it is usually necessary to do a few more sessions of physical therapy for the carpal tunnel and exercises to prevent the scars from the surgery from being adhered and preventing the free movement of the affected nerve. See some examples of exercises to do at home.