Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Is Surgery The Answer?

Do you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome? The most common symptoms are pain and numbness in your hand or wrist. Sometimes that pain can spread up the length of your forearm.  Your carpal tunnel is actually a kind of conduit between the ligaments and bones of your hand and the median nerves and tendons that run up your arm. Clinical data suggests that repetitive movements of the hand and wrist can inflame the carpal tunnel and lead to the nerve damage. This puts people who work on factory assembly lines, typists and even grocery clerks as among the most susceptible.

Those afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome first notice a tingling or itching in the palm of the hand. Even though there are no obvious signs of swelling, sufferers will often feel as though their hands are so “thick” as to render them useless.

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In extreme cases, surgery might be required to alleviate the issues associated with this type of nerve damage. Here’s what you need to know about the surgery option for carpal tunnel syndrome:

When Surgery Is Considered an Option

Surgery is recommended for patients afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome when signs of nerve damage are preventing someone from carrying out their normal daily routines. There could be issues with a loss of hand coordination and disruption of sleep because of the ongoing pain. The decision to move forward with surgery will probably come after months of no effective alternative therapy treatments.

The Surgical Procedure

As with many surgical procedures, there will be a choice between open surgery or endoscopic surgery. Both procedures will target the transverse carpal ligament. By making an incision in that ligament, the pressure should be relieved.

The open surgery procedure for carpal tunnel syndrome will leave a bigger scar. The recovery time will also be longer than with the endoscopic procedure. However, with the open surgery approach, there is a greater reduction on complications. The endoscopic procedure allows for a quicker recovery time and minimal scarring. However, there is a chance that further procedures will be required if the pain persists.

A third option would be to do a smaller open surgery that would allow your doctor to examine the ligament directly but wouldn’t create a large scar. This is a relatively new approach to dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome through surgery. The research studies about its effectiveness are ongoing.

Alternative Forms of Treatment

Before rushing into the surgery option, you might want to consider alternative forms of treatment. In fact, most people who suffer from bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome don’t require surgery. There are various physical therapy exercises that can be used to help alleviate the pain. Additionally, sufferers can find relief in a variety of over-the-counter products. A very popular external pain relief product is Magnesium Direct X-Pain. This solution is sprayed directly on the inflamed area and massaged into the skin.

As with any type of ailment, the best course of action with carpal tunnel syndrome is to see a doctor at the first signs of trouble. Early detection can go a long way towards stemming the advance of the nerve damage.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer, and she blogs at Miss Rx. You can see more of her work or get in touch by following @foodierx on Twitter.

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