Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Require Surgery?

Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Require Surgery?

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects up to 10 million people in the United States, causing pain, tingling, and dysfunction in the hands and wrists. It happens when you have inflammation or swelling in your wrist, which causes compression of the median nerve that runs through the wrist’s carpal tunnel to supply sensation to your fingers. 

The swelling and inflammation that lead to carpal tunnel syndrome can be due to hormonal changes, your anatomy, repetitive movements like typing or painting, or a chronic health problem. 

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, conservative treatments like icing, pain medications, wrist splints, and movement modifications are often enough to ease your symptoms. But if these interventions don’t help, Dr. Michael Esposito, our physician at the Interventional Spine & Pain Institute in Vero Beach, Florida, may recommend surgery.

When surgery is the best option

Here’s when carpal tunnel syndrome may benefit from surgical treatment.

Your case is severe

Mild cases of carpal tunnel syndrome usually respond to nonsurgical treatments such as icing and splinting. You may find relief by changing the way you do some tasks or by using an ergonomic keyboard designed to put less stress on your wrists. If you catch the symptoms of carpal tunnel early and use these treatments early, you can avoid surgery.

Severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome that have persisted for several months, or longer, may only get relief through surgery.

You don’t have underlying health conditions

If you have carpal tunnel as a consequence of other health problems, like hypothyroidism, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, surgery usually only gives you temporary relief. Often, it’s better to treat the underlying condition to make your carpal tunnel go away. 

Sometimes, surgery and treatment for your chronic disease pair well when it comes to finding relief from the pain.

You’re at risk of lasting nerve damage

Dr. Esposito performs a nerve test to see if you need surgery. Ongoing carpal tunnel can make your symptoms and dysfunction permanent if your nerves are damaged. 

You’re not pregnant

Women commonly develop carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. You might want to wait until you have your baby to have surgery, as carpal tunnel syndrome often goes away after delivery. 

Surgical options for carpal tunnel syndrome

The type of surgery you undergo depends on your particular case. Dr. Esposito may recommend an open carpal tunnel release. With this option, he makes an incision on the inside of your wrist and then cuts right through the flexor retinaculum, a band of connective tissue that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. 

Another surgical approach is known as endoscopic carpal tunnel release. During this procedure, Dr. Esposito makes small incisions and uses an endoscope — a small camera — and tiny instruments to free the nerve from the flexor retinaculum. 

Both surgeries are outpatient procedures, meaning you go home the same day to recover. 

Surgery success rates

Dr. Esposito only recommends surgery if your symptoms interfere with daily activity, recur regularly, and don’t respond to corticosteroid injections or other nonsurgical treatments. 

Usually, your symptoms disappear after surgery. But if you had severe damage to the nerve, it could be several weeks or months before you feel better. 

In some cases, surgery doesn’t help. Generally, this is because your carpal tunnel syndrome is at an advanced stage and damage to the nerve has occurred. 

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome and are ready to explore your treatment options, contact Interventional Spine & Pain Institute. Call today or request an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How a Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial Works

A spinal cord stimulator can help patients find relief from chronic back pain when conservative treatments or surgery don’t work. Before we permanently implant the stimulator, you go through a trial period to determine if it’s right for you.

When to Consider Botox® for Your Headaches

If you have chronic headaches or migraines, Botox® may just be the answer. You might think of it only as a cosmetic enhancement, but this medication can have a real, positive impact on life-disrupting headache pain.

The Most Common Causes of Testicle Pain

Testicular pain is rightfully concerning and has causes that include injury, STDs, and testicular cancer. Here’s a list of the most common causes of your pain and information about when you should seek help.

5 Ways to Manage Fibromyalgia Pain

There are things you can do at home to help alleviate the chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Here are five steps you can take to manage fibromyalgia and improve your quality of life.

All About Peripheral Neuralgia

When damage to your nerves in the peripheral nervous system leads to chronic pain, you have peripheral neuralgia. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how we can help.