There is a narrow space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel where the median nerve, as well as nine tendons, passes from the forearm into the hand. The median nerve and tendons bend and flex your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when increased pressure is placed on the median nerve. Due to the small size of this tunnel, any swelling can pinch the median nerve and cause pain.
In carpal tunnel release, the surgeon will cut through the thick ligament which makes up the top of the carpal tunnel in order to create more room for the nerve and tendons. Sometimes surgeons will be able to use minimally invasive techniques to conduct this procedure by inserting a tiny camera that is attached to a monitor through a small incision in your wrist.
At Maimonides, patients with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are usually prescribed non-surgical treatments first. Identifying and treating medical conditions, changing the patterns of hand use, or keeping the wrist splinted in a straight position may help reduce pressure on the nerve. However, when symptoms are severe or do not improve, surgery may be needed to make more room for the nerve.
As with all surgeries, there are some related risks to carpal tunnel release such as:• Bleeding
- Injury to the median nerve or the surrounding nerves
- Allergic reactions to medicines
Preparing for the Procedure
- Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking. This includes vitamins, supplements or herbs you bought without a prescription.• Your physician may ask you to stop taking drugs that make it difficult for your blood to clot such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and other drugs.
- Speak to your doctor and determine which drugs you are allowed to take on the day of your surgery.
- Smoking can slow healing, so if you do it’s best to try to stop. If you need help, as your doctor or nurse for tips and support.
- Always let your physician know about any illness you may have before your surgery.
- You may be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the surgery.
After the Procedure
This surgery is done on an outpatient basis, so you will not require a hospital stay. You can expect your wrist to be in a splint or heavy bandage for around a week. Once removed, you will begin exercises and/or physical therapy.