When Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Warrant Surgery?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, surgery, Orthopaedic Associates of Reading

If you’ve been struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome for a long time, you might start wondering if you should consider surgery. When you first received your carpal tunnel diagnosis, you were probably able to relieve or lessen your symptoms with simple strategies. However, continued pressure on the nerves can worsen your symptoms and lead to permanent damage that can be fixed by surgery.

Our team of physicians at Orthopaedic Associates of Reading can help you determine when carpal tunnel surgery is needed. Here are the essentials you need to know about your diagnosis and surgical treatment.

Understanding the anatomy

Before we talk about what carpal tunnel syndrome is, you need to be familiar with a few of the structures in your hand and wrist. The bones in your wrist are called the carpal bones. In the center of these bones is a narrow passage known as the carpal tunnel.

Originating in your neck, the median nerve travels down your arm and forearm. It then passes the carpal tunnel before leading to your hand, thumb, and fingers. This nerve provides feeling to your thumb and all fingers, except the pinky finger. The muscles in the base of your thumb are also controlled by the median nerve, which helps you flex and move your thumb.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel can become narrowed for many reasons. When narrowing happens, or the tissues around the tendons that move your thumb become inflamed, extra pressure is placed on the median nerve. These tissues around the thumb are known as the synovium. The synovium is inside the tunnel and helps to lubricate the tendons to make movement smooth and pain-free.

If the synovium swells, it takes up more space in the tunnel, limiting the room around the median nerve. As the nerve becomes compressed, it can cause discomfort and weakness in your hand, which is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.  

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually start gradually and come and go. However, as the condition worsens, you might notice that the symptoms are more severe, last longer, or occur more often.

Carpal tunnel is often aggravated by activities that keep your wrist bent or place extra pressure on the nerve. This means you might notice an increase in your symptoms when holding objects, sleeping with your wrist bent, or other activities that require your wrist to be bent for an extended period.

The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel include:

Do I need surgery?

Surgery isn’t the first line of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. As your symptoms progress, the pain and other symptoms will get worse. You might also notice increasing weakness in your hands and wrists.

Surgery might be suggested by your doctor if:

If you fit one or more of these categories, you might need to have a carpal tunnel release to alleviate your symptoms and restore strength and function to your wrist and hand. This procedure relieves the pressure on the nerve by cutting the ligament in the carpal tunnel, expanding the space around the nerve and decreasing the pressure.

If you’ve been struggling with carpal tunnel or your symptoms are more severe, it’s time to schedule an appointment with the physicians at Orthopaedic Associates of Reading. Give one of our offices in Wyomissing, Reading, or Hamburg a call today, or click on the “request appointment” button on our site to get your consultation on our books.

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