Endoscopic Surgery for Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome: Three Questions Answered

Carpal-tunnel syndrome causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and wrist as well as a loss of strength in the affected fingers, hand, or wrist. This is often caused by repetitive motion stress placed on the median nerve and affects over 60 million individuals globally. When other treatment methods fail, orthopedic surgeons often recommend endoscopic surgery to repair the damage and restore normal functionality to your hand and wrist. If you are considering endoscopic surgery to treat your condition, here are the answers to three important questions you may have on your mind.

Why Is Endoscopic Surgery Recommended for Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome?

If your orthopedic surgeon has recommended endoscopic surgery, it is most likely because other nonsurgical treatment methods have not produced satisfactory results. In most cases, surgery is performed because traditional methods of treatment, such as physical therapy, steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medications have failed. Also, if the median nerve has been damaged, it may need repair through surgery. In addition, your physician may feel that this type of procedure will result in a minimal recovery time.

What Does Endoscopic Surgery for Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome Typically Involve?

In most cases, this technique is performed with local anesthesia to numb the area rather than general anesthesia that sedates the patient. This procedure is performed with the use of an instrument known as an endoscope. Basically, this is a flexible and narrow tube-like device that is attached to a tiny camera.

The endoscope is inserted into the wrist after a small incision is made. The camera allows the surgeon to clearly view the nerves and tendons. The reason for endoscopic surgery is to view the area without the need to open a large area. Endoscopic surgery is often recommended for those with medical conditions such as diabetes because it is minimally invasive and because healing time with this method is faster than with traditional surgery.

During endoscopic surgery, the surgeon will cut the traverse carpal ligament. This technique will relieve the pressure on the nerve and reduce the tingling, numbness, and pain you may have been previously experiencing.

What Does Post-Operative Recovery Involve?

Endoscopic surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is often quite successful, and you should find your symptoms have reduced significantly or disappeared completely. After surgery, you may be instructed to avoid repetitive motion activities for a specified period of time, typically a few weeks. As every case differs, your surgeon will recommend how long to avoid such movements. Otherwise, you should be able to return to your normal activities and back to work within a day or two.

Your doctor or orthopedic surgeon may recommend a period of post-operative physical therapy. This typically involves exercises to restore free movement and regain strength in your hand and wrist. Your physical therapist may refer to this therapy as range-of-motion exercises. Because you may experience a degree of discomfort following your surgery, exercises may help reduce the discomfort or desensitize the area. Keep in mind that your physical therapy may not begin until a few weeks after surgery or until the surgical site and affected nerve have fully healed.

Are There Risks Involved?

As with any type of surgery, there is always a risk of complication. However, endoscopic surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome is considered to be safe, with a low incidence of complications. In some cases, patients may experience post-operative infection or nerve damage, although this is uncommon. Be sure to choose an orthopedic surgeon, such as one from Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C., who has performed endoscopic surgery for carpal tunnel before. He or she will be able to address all your concerns.