Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery: What You Need to Know

Carpal tunnel release surgery, or carpal tunnel decompression, is a commonly performed procedure to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

At Morrison Clinic, we specialize in comprehensive care for individuals suffering from this condition. We offer advanced surgical techniques and personalized treatment plans to help our patients regain function and alleviate pain in their hands and wrists.

This article will help you understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes compressed or pinched as it passes through the narrow passageway known as the carpal tunnel in the wrist.

This compression can result in various symptoms that get worse with time and activity. 

Without proper treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome can significantly impact daily activities, from typing on a keyboard to gripping objects and performing simple tasks.

What Symptoms Are Common with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? 

Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, and ring finger, as well as weakness or clumsiness in the hand.

Carpal tunnel symptoms may worsen at night or during activities involving repetitive hand and wrist movements.

Other common symptoms of carpal tunnel include:

  • Hand or wrist pain that radiates up the arm.
  • Electric shock-like sensations in a thumb, index, or ring finger.
  • Difficulty performing fine motor tasks, such as buttoning shirts or picking up small objects.
  • Worsening symptoms at night, often disrupting sleep.
  • The sensation of pins and needles in the hand, especially after prolonged use.
  • Pain or discomfort that worsens with repetitive hand movements.
  • Stiffness or tightness in the fingers, hand, or wrist.
  • Pain that travels from the wrist up the arm towards the shoulder.
  • Decreased grip strength, making it challenging to hold onto objects.
  • Difficulty making a fist or fully extending the fingers.
  • Swelling or puffiness in the fingers or palm.
  • Coldness or numbness in the affected hand.
  • Difficulty distinguishing between hot and cold sensations in the affected hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms tend to get worse with time. Don’t wait to seek treatment. Call Morrison Clinic today at 561-284-8455 to schedule a consultation with our experienced specialists.

What Activities and Conditions Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically caused by how you use your hand and wrist or by underlying health conditions. 

Here are some of the most common causes: 

  • Repetitive hand and wrist movements, including typing or using a computer mouse for extended periods.
  • Prolonged or excessive force on the wrist, such as gripping tools or heavy machinery.
  • Certain medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid dysfunction.
  • Pregnancy can increase pressure on the median nerve due to hormonal changes and fluid retention.
  • Obesity or being overweight can increase pressure on the wrist and median nerve.
  • Wrist injuries, such as fractures or sprains, cause swelling or inflammation in the carpal tunnel.
  • Anatomical factors include a naturally narrow carpal tunnel or variations in the structure of the wrist bones.
  • Genetics, as some individuals may be predisposed to developing carpal tunnel syndrome based on family history.
  • Hormonal changes, such as menopause or thyroid disorders, can affect fluid retention and increase pressure on the median nerve.
  • Smoking can impair blood flow and increase inflammation, contributing to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Medications like corticosteroids or hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Occupational factors include working in industries requiring repetitive hand movements or prolonged use of vibrating tools.
  • Poor ergonomics or improper workstation setup can contribute to muscle strain and compression of the median nerve.
  • Aging, as the tissues in the wrist may degenerate over time, leading to increased pressure on the median nerve.
  • Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can affect fluid balance and increase swelling in the carpal tunnel.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders can cause inflammation and swelling in the wrist joint, compressing the median nerve.
  • Nerve damage or neuropathy can affect the function of the median nerve and increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Trauma to the wrist, such as a fall or impact injury, can damage the wrist’s structures and contribute to compression of the median nerve.

When Should You See a Doctor for Carpal Tunnel? 

While there’s no exact time limit for your symptoms to become severe enough to see the doctor, it’s important to consider how your symptoms impact your daily life to determine if you need medical care. 

If you experience persistent symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that disrupt your daily life, it’s time to seek medical care. Early diagnosis and treatment will keep your conditioning from getting worse and help improve your chances of successful recovery.

How Is Carpal Tunnel Treated? 

Treating carpal tunnel syndrome may include conservative measures such as a wrist splint, anti-inflammatory medicines therapy, and physical therapy to alleviate symptoms and improve hand and wrist function.

In cases where conservative treatment fails to provide relief, carpal tunnel release surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the median nerve and alleviate symptoms.

Non-surgical interventions include:

  • Hot or cold therapy, such as applying ice packs or warm compresses to the wrist, reduces inflammation and relieves pain.
  • Rest and activity modification, including taking breaks from repetitive tasks and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms.
  • Ergonomic modifications to the workstation or environment to reduce strain on the wrists and minimize repetitive movements.
  • Corticosteroid injections into the carpal tunnel to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
  • Lifestyle changes include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing underlying medical conditions.
  • Occupational therapy, including education on proper ergonomics and adaptive strategies for performing daily activities.
  • Yoga or stretching exercises to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension in the hand and wrist.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses electrical impulses to block pain signals and promote healing in the wrist.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

During carpal tunnel release surgery, Dr. Morrison carefully releases the transverse carpal ligament, a thick band of tissue that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. 

This release creates more space within the tunnel, relieving pressure on the median nerve and alleviating the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. There are two types of surgery: open and endoscopic.

Open Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

Open surgery, also known as traditional carpal tunnel release, involves making a small incision in the palm to access the carpal tunnel. Dr. Morrison then cuts through the transverse carpal ligament to release pressure on the median nerve, relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Open surgery allows Dr. Morrison to see the surgical site easily. It relieves symptoms but requires a longer recovery time and leaves a visible scar.

Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery is a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery. Dr. Morrison will create a tiny incision in your wrist or palm and insert a small camera attached to a tube.

This camera attached to a tube allows him to see the internal structures of the carpal tunnel without needing a large incision.

Using specialized instruments, Dr. Morrison cuts the transverse carpal ligament to release pressure on the median nerve. 

Endoscopic surgery typically results in less pain, scarring, and a quicker recovery than open surgery.

At Morrison Clinic, we offer both open and endoscopic carpal tunnel release, utilizing minimally invasive techniques to minimize scarring and facilitate faster patient recovery.

Are Carpal Tunnel Decompression and Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery the Same Thing? 

One question that patients often ask is whether carpal tunnel release surgery and carpal tunnel decompression are the same thing. The answer is yes; both terms refer to the surgical procedure of releasing the transverse carpal ligament to relieve pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. 

Whether referred to as carpal tunnel decompression or release, the goal of the surgery remains the same: to alleviate symptoms and improve hand and wrist function for individuals suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. 

What Is the Day of Surgery Like For Carpal Tunnel Release?

The duration of the surgery may vary depending on factors such as the severity of the carpal tunnel syndrome, the surgical technique used (open or endoscopic), and any additional procedures that may be performed simultaneously. 

Plan to spend a few hours at the surgery center and ensure someone is available to drive you home.

Carpal tunnel release surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, meaning patients can go home the same day as the surgery. If you have complex medical conditions or a history of allergic reactions to numbing medicine, Dr. Morrison may require an overnight stay, but this is not common. 

Carpal tunnel release surgery typically takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Dr. Morrison will ask you to arrive early to be prepped for surgery, and you will spend some time in the recovery room until the effects of the numbing medicine have worn off.

Carpal tunnel release surgery is a relatively quick and straightforward procedure to reduce symptoms and help people with carpal tunnel syndrome feel better.

How Long Is Recovery from Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

Some discomfort and swelling are normal after surgery. Both can easily be managed with pain medication and ice packs. Most patients report significant improvement within a few weeks of surgery, although full recovery may take several months. 

After surgery, our team may recommend conservative treatments such as a wrist splint, anti-inflammatory medicines therapy, and physical therapy to help support the healing process and prevent the recurrence of symptoms.

What Is the Success Rate of Carpal Tunnel Surgery? 

The Mayo Clinic reports that 90% of patients are happy they had the surgery, and approximately 50% report returning to normal after surgery. Repeat surgeries are rare.

While the surgery is known for producing significantly improved functioning, some may experience lingering weakness, tingling, and tenderness in their hands or wrists. 

Ready to Explore Your Carpal Tunnel Treatment Options?

At Morrison Clinic, we understand how hard it is to live with carpal tunnel syndrome. We are committed to providing compassionate care and effective treatment options to help you regain function and alleviate pain. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t wait to seek treatment. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Morrison and take the first step toward relief.