Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the so-called median nerve in the wrist. Typical initial symptoms are pain or paraesthesia radiating out from the hand into the whole of the arm. At the beginning these often occur at night, but later on also during the day. At an advanced stage, there may be muscle wasting in the ball of the thumb, weakness of the grasp and impairment of the sense of touch.

For a while at least, simple forms of the carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated conservatively. In more severe cases it becomes necessary to open the carpal ligament surgically, leaving the carpal tunnel open quite deep down at first, after which it gradually heals again on its own. The scar tissue that develops after this leads to permanent expansion of the tunnel. The skin lying over it is sutured and heals in about two weeks. Having said that, complete healing of the tissue takes longer.

Accordingly, there is usually a noticeable lack of strength for approx. 6 – 8 weeks. The recovery of nerve function with the disappearance of finger crunching and numbness as well as pressure-related pain in the arm is very different. If the microsurgical treatment is carried out in good time and before there is structural damage to the nerve, the symptoms often disappear abruptly after the operation or in the course of the next few days.

All in all, the microsurgical carpal tunnel operation is a small operation with a high success rate. Complications are rare.

DURATION OF OPERATION: approx. 30 minutes

ANAESTHETIC: optionally, short anaesthetic or brachial plexus anaesthetic

HOSPITALISATION: usually out-patient

AFTER-TREATMENT: immobilisation for 3 – 5 days, suture removal after 10 – 12 days

PRESENTABILITY, RETURN TO WORK: depending on occupation, as from 5 days after operation

SPORT: after complete healing

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