Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition involving pressure on the median nerve in the wrist as it passes through the carpal tunnel, which supplies feeling to the hand. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, and/or pain in the hand and fingers. The surgical release procedure divides the transverse carpal ligament, which forms the roof of this tunnel, and relieves pressure on the median nerve to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.

When is carpal tunnel surgery used?

Patients who suffer from carpal tunnel symptoms that persist after a long trial of nonsurgical treatments—such as wrist splinting, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids to relieve pain— which are not effective can benefit from carpal tunnel treatment. If carpal tunnel syndrome is a result of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, then treating the arthritis may reduce symptoms.

How is carpal tunnel surgery performed?

With the endoscopic approach, the plastic surgeon makes a single small incision hidden in the wrist crease, allowing for access to the carpal tunnel using a special scope and camera. These smaller incisions allow for faster recovery and less post-operative pain.

The open approach includes a slightly larger incision at the base of the palm of the hand and allows the surgeon to see and access the transverse carpal ligament.

Talk to your surgeon about which procedure is right for you. Consider and discuss recovery times and when you could return to work.

What results can I expect?

After carpal tunnel surgery, most people have fewer or no symptoms of pain and numbness in their hand. There may be temporary loss of strength when pinching or gripping an object due to the cutting of the transverse carpal ligament, but this strength should, over time, return.