Carpal Tunnel Surgery Pros and Cons – Part 5: Risks
The real (and significant) risks and general downside of endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome are many. And due to its ineffectiveness, carpal tunnel surgery is entirely unnecessary. Thus, weighing the pros and cons of this operation should be done carefully. Aside from specific risks of endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, all surgery carries with it some general risks. These include infection at the site of surgery or systemic infections, as well as risks of a reaction to general or local anesthesia; that carries with it a risk of death, although that’s rare.
Risks specific to endoscopic surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome include major problems such as nerve damage are about 1%. There also is the risk of injury to blood vessels and tendons. Scar tissue also may build up over time, creating more pain and symptoms than before the surgery. This might require a second revision surgery to repair. Finally, while not a risk per se, a simple unsuccessful result (meaning the surgery just didn’t work for some reason) is possible.
Even if the surgery is “successful”, and it takes you 1 month to fully recover, during that time (and for months thereafter) you must slowly start stretching and building up your strength, being careful not to re-injure yourself. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of work, that some patients cannot afford. Also, only half of carpal tunnel surgery patients return to their former job.
Finally, surgery often fails to take into account that a larger carpal tunnel syndrome dynamic leading to the symptoms in the first place. Just cutting one spot may not beneficially affect that dynamic. So with failed results, a hand surgeon will often say that you just need a second surgery. But it may be that your symptoms are a result of dysfunction in the neck or the front of the chest and shoulder. Thus, surgery itself can targets the wrong spot.
Aside from the risks of surgery, there are other significant dangers to carpal tunnel surgery that remain hidden to most prospective patients. These hidden dangers should be considered just as heavily as the risks of surgery.
Do you really need surgery?
The National institutes of Health and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (who regulate this surgery) say that non-surgical treatments like deep tissue myofascial release massage are nearly 100% effective in treating this condition. They also say that surgery should be your LAST option once you’ve tried every such a non-surgical option first. That’s because surgery does not attack the root cause of the problem: tendon inflammation. To permanently alleviate such inflammation, merely removing pressure on the median nerve (as surgery attempts) is not enough. And it’s one reason surgery fails over 50% of the time. Only deep tissue myofascial release massage can alleviate the inflammation permanently because it drains fluid while also breaking the adhesions that cause the inflammation. You need such massage daily for 4 weeks from a trained therapist. Or you can use the Carpal Rx which performs the exact same massage automatically.