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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a very common condition that occurs when the median nerve (the nerve that crosses the front of your wrist) become trapped, causing tingling, numbness, pain, and weakness in the hand and arm. This nerve passes through the carpal tunnel (a canal in the wrist that carries all the tendons of the hand) and may require surgery to relieve the pressure on this nerve.

Why you might need it

If you are experiencing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your hand or arm then this may be a sign that the nerve that crosses in front of your wrist (the median nerve) may have become trapped in the carpal tunnel. As the tunnel is quite narrow, any swelling of the tissue in or around it can compress the nerve.

Whilst it isn’t often known what causes carpal tunnel syndrome, there are certain factors that may increase your risk of developing it, according to clinical sources, including diabetes, wrist injuries, rheumatoid arthritis and a family history of the condition. Up to a 50% of pregnant women develop carpal tunnel syndrome, while another factor may be repetitive strenuous work with your hand/s.

Your Consultation

You will have a consultation with a healthcare professional, during which you can discuss your symptoms, your medical history and ask any questions that you may have.

Your consultant will discuss the procedure with you so you know exactly what to expect. Your consultant may also discuss if any further diagnostic tests may be needed, such as a blood test or scan, with you.

We understand that this can be a daunting time so our friendly and caring team will be sure to put you at rest and make your experience with us, as comfortable as possible.

The Procedure

Carpal tunnel release surgery is usually done under local anaesthetic (meaning you will be awake during the procedure and the area being operated on will be numbed) and the operation takes between 10 – 20 minutes.

There are 2 types of carpal tunnel release surgery:

1. Open surgery

During open surgery, your surgeon will make a single cut (approx 5cm long) in the front of your wrist at the base of your palm. They will then open the carpal tunnel and cut the ligament to relieve the pressure on your nerve.

2. Keyhole surgery

Your surgeon will make a small cut (approx 2 cm long) in your forearm just above your wrist, or in the palm of your hand. They will then pass an endoscope (a thin, flexible telescope) into the cut to help see inside the wrist either by looking directly through this telescope or at pictures it sends to a screen.

Your surgeon will cut your ligament using a special surgical instrument attached to the endoscope, therefore relieving pressure on your nerve.

After surgery, the cut in your skin is usually closed with dissolvable stitches.

Recovery/Aftercare

Following the procedure you will be taken to a recovery room to recuperate until you are ready to go home, once you are fully recovered from the anaesthesia.

You may go home with a bandage on will need someone to drive you home, and to undertake any errands (such as grocery shopping) for you in the few days following the operation as you won’t be feeling up to it. Your consultant will advise you on when it will be safe for you to drive again and return to leisure activities.

You also may experience some pain or discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Your wrist will also be bruised and swollen but this will settle naturally after a couple of weeks. Some scarring may occur, however with time this will fade.

We advise that you don’t do activities involving repetitive gripping actions such as gardening or writing for at least 4 weeks.

Before you leave the hospital you may be given some exercises to do by a physiotherapist, as well as an Outpatient appointment to remove your stitches, or if you have been given dissolvable stitches these will disappear in their own time.

We offer a multidisciplinary approach to our procedures, so we can offer further care such as physiotherapy, should you need it following your treatment too.

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Our dedicated team will still be there for you during each step of your recovery, even once you have left the hospital if you have any queries or concerns. Our consultants will usually book a follow-up appointment with you before you are discharged from hospital, to see how you are doing.

Whilst it is rare occurrence, surgery does carry a risk of complications. These depend on the type of operation you have as well as a variety of other factors such as your overall general health. During your consultation/s your consultant will discuss the possible risks and complications of having this procedure, and how they may apply to you, and answer any concerns or questions you have.

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