Carpal tunnel surgery is performed in order to effectively treat severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and it’s recommended when other types of therapy fail to be effective. While some experts believe that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motion, others feel that it’s most likely a congenital predisposition, found in patients who are born with smaller carpal tunnels. This condition can also be caused by injury or from the repetitive use of a vibrating piece of machinery. Carpal tunnel surgery recovery time can depend on the severity of your condition and how you proceed during the healing process. Physical therapy sessions are typically prescribed after surgery and will require you to not only meet with a PT, but also practice prescribed exercises two to three times each day at home.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery:What to Expect
Your doctor will first request that you try nonsurgical interventions. This can include anti-inflammatory medication, wrist braces, occupational therapy and shots of corticosteroids. If these treatments fail to be effective, your doctor will then recommend surgery. They will also recommend surgery if the muscles in the wrists or hands are too small due to pinching of the median nerve, if symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome have lasted longer than six months or if they conduct an electromyography test, which determines the severity of your condition.
The risks of this surgery include infection, excessive bleeding, injury to the median nerve, injury to surrounding nerves or injury to blood vessels. The carpal tunnel recovery time can involve several weeks or months. Physical therapy is required in order to heal and strengthen the hand and wrist.
This is typically an outpatient procedure, which means you’ll be discharged the day the surgery takes place. The newer technique used for carpal tunnel surgery is called endoscopic carpal tunnel release. With this procedure, the surgeon will make a half inch incision and insert a tube with an attached camera inside. The camera is in place to guide the surgeon as they perform the procedure. The physician will then make another half inch incision, where they will enter, in order to cut the carpal ligament. After the surgery is completed your wrist and hand will be bandaged and placed in a splint.
What Happens after Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Your wrist will be kept in a splint for approximately a week. After a week the splint and bandaging will be removed. You will then begin a physical therapy program where you’ll complete a number of exercises that are designed to improve hand and wrist mobility and flexibility. If you follow the physical therapist’s instructions and do your exercises daily, you will significantly speed up the carpal tunnel surgery recovery time.
During the healing process, if you have a fever, experience increased pain or note any bleeding, swelling, drainage or redness from the incision site, contact your doctor right away.