Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is compression of the median nerve at the wrist. This nerve runs from the forearm to the palm of the hand. The exact cause is not known, but certain factors such as congenital abnormalities, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and pregnancy increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually develop gradually.

 

Symptoms
Recovery
Risks

Symptoms

The most common ones are:

  • Frequent tingling in the thumb, index and middle and ring fingers
  • Burning or numb sensations occurring in the palm or fingers and thumb
  • Waking up at night having to shake your hand to relieve numbness
  • Difficulty grasping things in activities of daily living

 

Recovery

Following a carpal tunnel release, you will usually be able to go home that day. Your hand will be bandaged, and you will have to keep the hand dry for approximately a week. The operation typically results in minimal pain which can easily be controlled with simple analgesia. In most cases the sutures are self-dissolving but if permanent sutures are used they will need to be removed around day 10-14.

You will be unable to drive for a week following the surgery. Your return to work and usual activities will be entirely dependent on the nature of your work, and this may take up to 4 weeks. It can take up to a year to heal completely.

Risks

If you require a carpal tunnel release, then it is important that you are informed of the potential risks, complications and side effects of this surgery.

While all care is taken to minimise or totally avoid these complications and side effects, complications may and do occur despite the best medical care. It is important that you carefully read and understand the risk factors and they will be discussed in more detail when you have your consultation with your surgeon.

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