Does Carpal Tunnel Go Away Without Surgery
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) isn’t just an annoyance. It’s also one of those conditions that can cause pain, numbness or weakness in the hand, arm, shoulder, neck and even lower back. CTS occurs when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm to your fingers, gets pinched by bone and other structures at the base of your thumb and index finger. This compression interferes with how signals travel along the nerve, causing pain, burning and tingling sensations. In some cases, these symptoms may get worse over time. Fortunately, there are treatments you can try to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, but none will take care of the problem like having surgery done to decompress the carpal tunnel.
The carpal tunnel is located deep within your wrist, and it has a very specific job. It acts as a protective tube for the nerves in your hand. Nerves exit the carpal tunnel through two openings – one at the bottom of the tunnel and another at the top. These exits allow motor and sensory information to travel from your arm to your brain. When people have carpal tunnel syndrome, their carpal tunnels become narrowed and less roomy than they normally would be. As this happens, pressure builds up around the nerves inside the carpal tunnel, leading to irritation and inflammation. Eventually, if left untreated, the increased pressure can lead to more significant problems, such as damage to the surrounding tissue or bones, muscle wasting, loss of sensation, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and chronic pain syndromes.
In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome develops slowly over time. You might notice mild symptoms, but not think much about them until they begin getting progressively worse. If you suspect carpal tunnel syndrome, see your doctor right away. Your doctor should perform tests to rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms. He or she can then recommend treatment options based on what you tell him or her. Treatments include physical therapy, splints, braces, cortisone injections, stretching exercises, medications, and surgery.
If you’re considering surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll need to talk with your surgeon about all the possible risks involved. For example, do you have diabetes? Or does your blood sugar fluctuate during the day? Do you have high cholesterol levels? Are you allergic to latex or any drugs? How old are you? All of these factors affect how well your body heals after surgery.
There are several types of surgical procedures used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome; each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. One procedure involves cutting a hole in your skin so that doctors can place a small piece of mesh under your skin to keep the area open. Another option is endoscopic surgery. With this type of procedure, doctors insert tiny cameras into the affected part of your body to view the area. They use special tools to cut the tissues needed to widen the carpal tunnel. Finally, there is a procedure called ligamentoplasty. This technique uses a small incision to remove extra padding between the bones of your wrist and press down on the joint. After removing the excess padding, doctors replace the padding using sutures and/or wires. This technique relieves pressure on the carpal tunnel while allowing for greater mobility of the joints at the base of the thumb and index finger.
When deciding whether to go ahead with surgery, patients must weigh many things before making a decision. Talk with your doctor about every aspect of your health and consider all options carefully.
Does Carpal Tunnel Go Away Without Surgery?
You’ve probably heard someone say, “It won’t hurt unless you really make it.” Although pain relief doesn’t happen overnight, many people who had carpal tunnel surgery were surprised at how little discomfort was associated with the operation. Most patients experienced only minor swelling and bruising, and felt better quickly. Some reported improved strength almost immediately and many said the improvement in pain was dramatic.
Many people find that wearing a brace helps with recovery. Braces put pressure on the wrist to help strengthen muscles and reduce swelling. Also, keeping the hands elevated above the heart reduces circulation and swelling.
While most people recover fairly easily from carpal tunnel surgery, it is important to understand that recuperation times vary widely depending upon individual circumstances. People recovering from surgery usually return to work or school within a few days to weeks. However, if you experience complications, or if your job requires strenuous activity, you may want to consult your physician.
For more information on carpal tunnel syndrome and related topics, visit the next page.
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