Carpal Tunnel Surgery Adelaide
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve-related condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and wrist.
Numb hands when sleeping – could be carpal tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often used as a catch-all term for any condition involving the hand. But true carpal tunnel syndrome involves a compression of the median nerve in your wrist, leading to pins and needles in the hand or numbness.
The carpal tunnel consists of a collection of bones in the wrist (called the carpal bones) which are placed and spaced out in a curve, almost like an upside down arch. The tendons and nerves to the fingers go through this area, which is enclosed by a ligament that compresses the tissues and keeps them close against the bones.
As you get older, the ligaments and tendons in this area tend to thicken and take up more space. That squeezes or partially strangles the median nerve. Some people have a genetic predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
If your median nerve has been compressed, you may experience a sensation of pins and needles affecting the thumb-side of your thumb, index finger, long finger and half of your ring finger. You may also experience an ache up your forearm and even up to the shoulder.
Symptoms most commonly occur at night. You may find that you wake up and have to shake your hand around.
During the day, you may find that it’s hard to grip the steering wheel or your bike’s handlebars or to hold your mobile.
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is very common but it is important to exclude other causes of similar symptoms. Your median nerve may be damaged, not by being squeezed in the carpal tunnel but by diabetes, nerve compression in the neck or other nerve disorders.
Carpal tunnel syndrome itself is linked with other conditions such as thyroid abnormalities, pregnancy and other hormonal variations.
If there is any concern, an MRI scan of the cervical spine (your neck) may be required but the best test is a nerve conduction study done by a qualified neurologist to confirm that the nerve is being compressed in the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel Treatment
Carpal tunnel treatment initially focuses on improving your symptoms through physiotherapy and a night brace on your wrist.
While these measures may provide some relief, they rarely eliminate the problem. That’s why most people turn to carpal tunnel surgery.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Carpal tunnel surgery aims to release the ligament over the median nerve so that the nerve has space around it again and is no longer compressed.
There are several ways to perform this surgery. Our preferred method is an open approach, which can be done with a local anaesthetic for most people. This avoids the risk of a general anaesthetic and minimises your out of pocket costs as there is no overnight stay required.
With a local anaesthetic, you can be involved in the surgery. If you’re not squeamish, you can even see what we’re doing, learning a great deal about your body.
Carpal Tunnel Surgery Recovery Time
After carpal tunnel surgery, we encourage you to use your hand as quickly as possible but not to do anything that could cause damage such as driving, ironing, holding a boiling kettle or gripping the bannister.
You’ll need to keep the wound dry for 5 days but should be able to return to your normal activities within 2-3 weeks.
What is the success rate of carpal tunnel surgery?
At a recent review of carpal tunnel surgery performed by Dr Nimon 98 % of patients had an improvement in their symptoms. This still means that one in fifty people may not get a recovery or improvement but ninety-eight out of a hundred did so.
Are there any complications?
All surgery carries some risk. The risks of carpal tunnel surgery include:
– Developing a superficial wound that may need antibiotics
Carpal Tunnel Surgery at Glenelg Orthopaedics
At Glenelg Orthopaedics, we pride ourselves on providing quality orthopaedic care. This means we make sure you have good advice, choice of treatments, careful & precise surgery if it is required, and comprehensive recovery care.
Call us to discuss your options for treating carpal tunnel syndrome.