Carpal Tunnel Release

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, a narrow confined space. Since the median nerve provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and 3 middle fingers, many symptoms may result.

When would I need surgery?

A diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is about the only reason to have a carpal tunnel surgery. And even then, your doctor will likely want you to try nonsurgical treatments first. These may include over-the-counter pain medicines, physical therapy, changes to the equipment you use at work, wrist splints, or shots of steroids in the wrist to help relieve swelling and pain.

The reasons for carpal tunnel release surgery may include:

  • The nonsurgical interventions for carpal tunnel syndrome don’t relieve the pain.
  • The doctor performs an electromyography test of the median nerve and determines that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • The muscles of the hands or wrists are weak and actually getting smaller because of the severe pinching of the median nerve.
  • The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome have lasted 6 months or longer with no relief.

What happens during carpal tunnel surgery?

Open Release

Carpal tunnel release is usually an outpatient procedure, which means that you can go home the same day as the surgery if all goes well. There are 2 types of carpal tunnel release surgery. The traditional method is the open release, in which the surgeon cuts open the wrist to do the surgery. The incision is about 2-inches on the wrist and then the surgeon uses common surgical instruments to cut the carpal ligament and enlarge the carpal tunnel.

Endoscopic Release

In an endoscopic carpal tunnel release, the doctor makes two, half-inch incisions. One is on the wrist, and one is on the palm. Then they insert a camera attached to a narrow tube into one incision. The camera guides your doctor as he or she inserts the instruments and cuts the carpal ligament through the other incision.

The other method is endoscopic carpal tunnel release, in which a thin, flexible tube that contains a camera is put into the wrist through a tiny incision (cut). The camera guides the doctor as the surgery is done with thin tools put into the wrist through another small cut.

At the end of either surgery, the surgeon will stitch up the incision or incisions. Your hand and wrist will be placed in a splint or bandaged heavily to keep you from moving your wrist.

Halifax Health – Center for Hand Surgery

At Halifax Health – Center for Hand Surgery our patient’s comfort is top priority. Hand injuries or conditions may cause immense discomfort and can lead to a loss in quality of life. Our physicians will work with you to evaluate your individual upper extremity concerns, injuries or problems. Treatments vary based on individual needs and you and your physician may choose a combination of therapies and/or surgery.