Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which is found in the carpal tunnel in your wrist, becomes compressed or pinched. This can occur due to a number of reasons, including nerve damage from diabetic neuropathy and repetitive motions like typing or holding power tools that vibrate.

Our hand specialist, Samer Alnajjar, MD, at LA Orthopaedic Specialists (LAOS) regularly treats patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Learn when surgery is a viable option for managing the symptoms of this condition.

The evolution of the symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome is progressive. Symptoms worsen over time, especially after long periods in which the wrist is used to make repetitive motions.

At the onset, you may notice tingling and numbness that comes and goes. Numbness may become more persistent as the condition progresses. Sometimes, you may even experience pain that feels like an electric shock.

Due to chronic numbness, some patients find it harder to maintain their grip strength, and it becomes more difficult to hold on to objects. Some people may even drop things due to numbness and weakness.

Our hand specialist recommends surgery when lifestyle changes and medications fail to improve the symptoms. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent median nerve damage, followed by wrist and hand disability.

What to expect from carpal tunnel surgery

Carpal tunnel surgery, also known as carpal tunnel release, is a procedure done on an outpatient basis. When you come in for a presurgical consultation, we discuss the type of anesthesia that’s best for you. To relieve your symptoms, Dr. Alnajjar cuts the tissue that’s putting pressure on your median nerve.

You may have open or endoscopic surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Open surgery involves making an incision in the wrist to directly access the median nerve.

For endoscopic surgery, Dr. Alnajjar makes very small incisions and inserts a tube with a light and camera at the end to see what’s happening inside your wrist. He may recommend endoscopic surgery to patients who desire smaller incisions and a faster recovery time.

Recovery and results

We give you aftercare instructions for while you’re healing at home. You may want to apply ice and elevate your hand. You may need to take pain medications for a short time. We’ll let you know about activity restrictions, too.

It usually takes at least four weeks to heal from carpal tunnel release surgery, but may take longer depending on how severe the damage to the median nerve was. You may wear a splint for part of your recovery time, and some people also benefit from physical therapy.

If your carpal tunnel symptoms are worsening or haven’t improved with conservative treatment measures, contact us to find out if you’re a good candidate for a carpal tunnel release. To make an appointment, call our office in downtown Los Angeles or use online booking.

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