Do I Need Surgery For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

January 26th, 2019 Becki Andrus
Hand And Wrist

If you are involved with your day-to-day activities and suddenly feel any form of numbness, tingling, burning, itching, or general weakness in the palm of your hand, your thumb, your index finger, or your middle finger, it is possible that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

This occurs when there is pressure in your median nerve, which is located along the length of your arm. The median nerve then travels through a passage in your wrist which is called the carpal tunnel. This median nerve is responsible for the movement and feeling of your thumb along with the movement of your first four fingers – excluding your pinky.

If the pressure on your median nerve reaches a certain point, there will be swelling in your carpal tunnel which causes it to narrow. There are multiple reasons why this can occur. Many times, it is the result of repetitive motion, such as typing or any other movements with your wrist that take place repeatedly. If your hand is lower than your wrist when you are making these repetitive motions it will increase the chances that any numbness or tingling in your hand is the result of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Repeated motion with your hands and arms as you function in your jobs can often lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Some examples of jobs in which this may occur include musicians, cashiers, hair stylist, bakers, someone who sews or knits, or anyone who works on an assembly line.

There are other conditions that can cause carpal tunnel syndromes such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, pregnancy, obesity, and an underactive thyroid, which can all be explored if you contact or visit a physician.

When Should You Visit A Doctor?

In addition to the basic symptoms that were mentioned previously, you may eventually lose some of your grip strength due to shrinkage in the muscles of your hand if carpal tunnel syndrome becomes worse.

You may also encounter muscle cramping and pain if this takes place. If the median nerve continues to lose its ability to function properly because of this pressure that surrounds it, that could also lead to a loss of feeling in your fingers, or a loss of strength and coordination that can also slow your nerve impulses.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, including the more severe group that were just listed, there is absolutely no reason to avoid seeing a doctor. Otherwise, there is the possibility that you will eventually suffer from permanent muscle damage if this issue is not addressed. Not only can that occur, but this can eventually impact the ability of your hand to function properly.

What Will Your Doctor Do?

Once you have decided to see a doctor, he or she may ask you to tap the palm side of your wrist. You may also be asked to flex your wrist with your arms completely extended because this will allow the physician to test whether or not you are dealing with a carpal syndrome. There’s an additional task called the EMG-NCV, which will measure the function of the nerve across your carpal tunnel.

Your physician may also ask you to hold your wrist in a flexed position in order to test for tingling or numbness. He or she may also press down or tap along the median nerve to determine if tingling or numbness takes place. Touching your hands and fingertips will also enable your doctor to check for sensitivity, as will checking for weakness at the base of your thumb.

If you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome you might initially wear a brace, and take some cortisone medication to counteract the inflammation. You will probably make some alterations to your daily routine which will involve avoiding any repetitive motion. But if the pain, tingling or numbness has not improved after six months of attempting these solutions, then surgery could become your best option.

If You Need Surgery

If your physician does recommend surgery, there are two different surgical approaches – open, and endoscopic. Open surgery involves a cut that could be up to two inches that would be located between your wrist and your palm, while endoscopic surgery involves one smaller cut in your wrist. At that point, a camera would be placed in that opening which will help the surgeon work on your ligament. Since endoscopy surgery involves a smaller cut it normally takes less time for the area to heal.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Can Help

If you have any questions or concerns about the possibility that you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome, or if you need to talk with an experienced hand doctor about any other issue, the specialists at Orthopedic Associates understand how pain in your hand or wrist can affect your well-being. We also know that each hand and wrist injury must be approached with the utmost care, regardless of what type of injury you have suffered, and how it occurred. We are also dedicated to making sure that you recover fully so that you can return to depending on your hand and wrist as you did before.

Hand doctor Kent F. Dickson, M.D is committed to providing effective, compassionate, and timely care. His expertise in educating our patients on how they can avoid future problems is also beneficial.

Hand and wrist problems that we can help you with at Orthopedic Associates:

  • Animal Bites to the Hand
  • Basal Joint Osteoarthritis
  • Boutonniere Deformity
  • Boxer’s Fracture
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Colles Fractures
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Digital Mucous Cysts
  • Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)
  • Dupuytren’s Disease
  • Finger Dislocation/Felon
  • Fingertip Injuries
  • Flexor Tendon Injuries
  • Fractures of the Finger/Hand (Metacarpal Fractures)
  • Ganglion Cysts of the Hand
  • Kienbock’s Disease
  • Mallet Finger
  • Nerve Injuries of the Hand
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hand
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Paronychia
  • Polydactyly of the Hand
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Hand
  • Scaphoid Fractures
  • Swan Neck Deformity
  • Syndactyly of the Hand
  • Thumb Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury
  • Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) Tears
  • Trigger Digit
  • Volar Plate Injuries
  • Wrist Sprain

Our orthopedics are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the hand & wrist:

  • About Surgery of the Hand
  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Anesthesia
  • Anesthesia (Regional)
  • Artificial Joint Replacement of the Finger
  • Basal Joint Surgery
  • Biologics Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Release (Open Technique)
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • De Quervain’s Release
  • Digital Mucous Cyst Excision
  • Digital Nerve Repair
  • Distal Radius Fracture Repair with Volar Plate
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release
  • Finger Felon Drainage
  • Finger Fracture Fixation
  • Finger Joint Fusion (DIP Joint)
  • Ganglion Cyst Removal
  • Joint Synovectomy
  • Limited Palmar Fasciectomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Needle Aponeurotomy for Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Scaphoid Fracture Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
  • Tendon Repair
  • Trigger Digit Release
  • Wrist Arthroscopy
  • Wrist Fusion (Total Wrist Arthrodesis)


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