The procedure | Carpal Tunnel Syndrome release

A compression of the nerve running through the tunnel in the wrist is the most known as well as most occurring nerve compression. The nerve there provides sensation to the thumb and the three fingers lying next to it. When this nerves swells up, for instance during pregnancy, the feeling in these fingers reduces and sometimes even becomes painful. This loss of function can be very confronting and invalidating. Depending on the level of complaint, treatment consists of surgically opening the tunnel in which it runs. In some cases an additional nerve study needs to be done, in order to determine the amount of damage to the nerve.

Where will I be operated?

The operation will be performed in the fully equipped operating theatre at the Radetzky villa.

What can I expect of the operation?

The operation will be performed under local anaesthetic and will take approximately 30 minutes. Your surgeon will always see you before the operation and will talk you through the steps. The procedure will start with prepping and draping of your lower arm and hand. Markings will be made on your wrist and you are asked to elevate your arm in order to reduce the amount of blood inside. Then a band around your upper arm will inflate tightly to prevent blood from running through your arm for a short period. You will be warned when the local anaesthetic is going to be injected. While you will not feel any pain during the procedure, you will be able to experience movements, pressure or changes in temperature. Your surgeon will use a precise electric devise to stop any bleeding that may occur and will use a suture to close the wound.

What are the risks?

Carpal tunnel release is considered to be a low risk procedure. The most common complications are postoperative bleeding, infection, or scar reactions. In some cases this may lead to prolonged recovery. Support by hand therapy may be needed.

What can I expect after the operation?

Your hand and wrist will be bandaged for 24 hours, during which time regular elevation – with your hand being higher than the elbow – is wise. When the anaesthetic wears off you may experience some slight discomfort. In the first few days healing will include some swelling and (variably) some restricted movements. These should however gradually disappear, as you are encouraged to use your hand as normal as possible. The sutures will be removed after 1 to 2 weeks.

What will the scars be like?

The scar will run on the inside of the wrist, from a couple of centimetres before the wrist until 2-3cm after the fold. It will be slightly red for the first few months. Eventually the colour will even out. Typically a scar will take one year to fully mature and in the majority of cases the scar, although present, should not be on the foreground anymore by that time.

How long before I can resume my normal life?

Most people manage to return to light activities in the first few days after surgery. At one to two weeks after surgery a follow-up appointment will be made for you at the Radetzky villa, where the sutures will be removed. From then on you are allowed to do everything again. However, please listen to your body though; pain is a protective mechanism, so if certain movements are painful please do not overdo them.

What is good to know about the long term?

Although life goes on, it is very uncommon for complaints to reoccur. You can therefore expect the effect of this procedure to last for a long time.
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