A carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the nerve located inside the carpal tunnel, an area in the wrist that supplies nerve function to the fingers. The condition for which the release is performed is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome ?
Anatomy similar to that of the wrist and hand exists in the ankle and foot. Tarsal is a word from Latin which means ankle. When the sensory nerve that passes through the tarsal tunnel is irritated by pressure in the tunnel, numbness and tingling of the foot and toes can be felt. This condition is referred to as "tarsal tunnel syndrome." Tarsal tunnel syndrome is analogous to, but far less common than carpal tunnel syndrome. It is treated similarly.
Preparing For Your Operation
Your surgeon will explain how to prepare for your operation. For example, if you smoke, you will be asked to stop as smoking increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is routinely done as a day case. This means you have the procedure and go home the same day.
The operation is usually done under a local anaesthetic. This completely blocks feeling from your wrist and palm area, but you will stay awake. You may be offered a sedative to help you relax during the operation. If you have a sedative, you will have very little memory of the test, afterwards. You can eat and drink as usual before having a local anaesthetic.
At the hospital your nurse may check your heart rate and blood pressure, and test your urine.
Your surgeon will usually ask you to sign a consent form. This confirms that you understand the risks, benefits and possible alternatives to the procedure and have given your permission for it to go ahead.
About The Operation
You may be asked to sit in a chair and rest your arm on the operating table, or lie on the operating table with your hand out to the side. Tight compression (a tourniquet) may be applied to your upper arm to stop blood flowing to your hand during the operation. Your surgeon will inject a local anaesthetic into your wrist and in the palm of your hand. You will feel a sharp sensation, which passes quickly.
Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Release Surgery
A small cut (2cm long) is made in your forearm just above the wrist or in the palm of your hand. A narrow, tube-like telescopic camera (endoscope) is passed into the cut to help see inside the wrist either by looking directly through this, or at pictures it sends to a video screen. Using a special instrument attached to the endoscope the carpal ligament is cut. The skin cut is closed with stitches.
What To Expect Afterwards ?
You may have a wrist splint fitted and your arm put in a sling. You will need to rest until the effects of the sedative have passed. You will be able to go home when you feel ready.
You will need someone to drive you home. You should have someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours.
Your nurse will give you some advice about caring for your healing wound before you go home. You may be given a date for a follow-up appointment.
Dissolvable stitches will disappear in seven to 10 days. Non-dissolvable stitches are removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.
What Are The Risks ?
Carpal tunnel release surgery is commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of this procedure.
These are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects of a successful treatment. Side-effects of carpal tunnel surgery include:
- Pain and discomfort in your wrist and hand
- Scarring - open surgery can leave a slightly bigger scar but this usually fades gradually over time
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have carpal tunnel release, your doctor will review a list of possible complications,
Which may include:
- Nerve damage
- Stiffness of the fingers
- Continued numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Smoking or :: alcohol abuse
- :: Diabetes
- Taking steroid medicine for other conditions
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