You are not alone—carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, is a common condition that affects more than 12 million people, with an additional 2.6 million people diagnosed every year.
If you’ve experienced the pain, tingling, or weakness that can occur with CTS, you know how debilitating it can be, and how much it can affect your work and personal life. Those days are over!
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a major nerve in the hand—the median nerve—is compressed as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. This occurs when the tendons in the carpal tunnel or their lining become thick from chronic irritation, trapping the nerve under the transverse carpal ligament (TCL).
CTS has many potential causes, including repetitive hand and finger motion, such as with typing, mousing, gripping, playing an instrument, and similar activities.
Common CTS symptoms include:
Mild symptoms of CTS can be treated with directed home care, which may include specific exercises, avoiding activities that cause symptoms, or wearing a wrist splint.
To relieve pain and reduce inflammation, medications may also be prescribed. In some cases, your physician may recommend corticosteroid injections.
Unfortunately, in many cases non-surgical treatments only provide temporary results, with symptoms eventually returning.
More severe cases of CTS may be treated surgically through a procedure called carpal tunnel release (CTR). This relieves pressure on the median nerve by transecting the transverse carpal ligament (TCL) which forms the roof of the “carpal tunnel.” Transecting the TCL creates more space for the nerve and tendons.
CTR may be completed endoscopically, with one to two small incisions, or through traditional open surgery using a single larger incision in the palm.
The recovery time for endoscopic surgery may span several weeks and traditional CTR surgery several months, during which time patients usually experience pain, restricted movement abilities, and are often unable to work or engage in normal activities.
Fortunately, with new specialized equipment and the use of an ultrasound machine, the same carpal tunnel release can be done in the doctor’s office within a matter of minutes. You can get the relief from your carpal tunnel pain without incurring the expense of a hospital, surgery center or anesthesia bill. Patients do not need to take the entire day off work for the procedure; you can drive to the procedure and home from the procedure without the need of a caregiver. After the procedure, you’ll be able to resume activities as tolerated. And most patients can return to work and the activities they love within 3-6 days.
Most patients are pleasantly surprised at how simple carpal tunnel release with ultrasound guidance is. You will have minimal preparation requirements and your visit to the clinic should be less than 1 hour. The procedure is done under a local anesthetic, so no need to fast prior to the procedure. A small 4-5mm incision is made at the wrist, with the guidance of ultrasound, the device is advanced to the transverse carpal ligament (TCL) which forms the roof of the “carpal tunnel”. Once all proper positioning is confirmed, the TCL is transected, releasing the trapped nerve. The device is then removed and a bandaid is applied. Your physician will provide you with post-procedure care information, and then you’re on your way.
Ask your physician if this procedure is right for you.