Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Surgery
Endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery
My guess is that you’re reading this because you have hand or finger pain. Or maybe the numbness is driving you mad. To get rid of it, you may be thinking of having hand surgery after learning about carpal tunnel syndrome. Certainly, endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery is an option.
Symptoms can get so bad that you’d do just about anything to stop them, including surgery. Frankly, almost everybody would feel the same way. For instance, I’ve had people say, “Doc, I’m about to cut my hand off to get rid of the pain. I’m desperate.”
I certainly wouldn’t recommend amputation. However, this desperation is why endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery is now so popular. But is it the best option?
Why your hands have a problem
Pain in your hand or fingers is a major sign of carpal tunnel syndrome. Frequently, so is numbness, tingling, and weakness. Usually the thumb gets the worst of it. But the little finger is never involved.
If your hand problems are indeed from carpal tunnel syndrome, then you’re not alone. In fact, one in twenty Americans either have it or will get it.
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens because of inflamed tendons inside your wrist joint. Inflamed tendons swell. And as they swell, they slowly crush the median nerve next to them. As the nerve crushes it produces the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms you now have.
How endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery helps
Endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery is one of two types used to treat this condition. The other is “open release” carpal tunnel surgery. Both aim to do one thing. That is, to cut the ligament holding your wrist bones together. Doing so lets the bones snap apart. This, in turn, provides more room around the swollen tendons. The result is that the nerve is no longer under pressure or squeezed.
What the surgery involves
The endoscopic type of surgery is different from the open release type of surgery in one big way. Typically, the open release method requires a 2-3 inch long cut in your palm. In contrast, the endoscopic method only needs two (sometimes just one) small hole in your palm. This means the operation can is performed using local anesthesia.
Also, the carpal tunnel recovery time is a lot shorter. Additionally, if there are no complications, many patients can go back to work in 2-8 weeks. But that’s only if the surgery was not on the dominant hand. If surgery was on the dominant hand, then recovery can take 2-3 times as long.
Pros and cons of endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery
There are several pros and cons of endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery compared to open release surgery. It’s important for patients to know the details about each one to discuss with your doctor.
No doubt, you’ll ask your doctor’s opinion about each technique. But also ask which surgery they’re most successful at performing. On the whole, they probably only perform one of them routinely.
The pros and cons list here is merely a summary. For details about these factors, see the pros & cons of endoscopic surgery.
Smaller incision means less recovery time.
The scar size is much smaller.
Less post-surgical pain.
Smaller chance of scar formation inside.
Local instead of general anesthesia.
Less chance of infection.
Faster return to work.
Much greater chance of nerve damage.
Greater chance of blood vessel damage.
Not frequently done.
Endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery has given many patients the relief they need. But many others remain dissatisfied with their results. With the wonderful non-surgical techniques available today, many doctors and patients ask if surgery is really necessary. The NIH and American College of Orthopedic Surgeons suggest that – at the very least – all patients should exhaust non-surgical remedies first.
The limitations and risks of endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery are a main reason I invented the Carpal Rx. It produces one of the most effective non-surgical remedies known, called myofascial release massage. Physical therapists use it every day to treat carpal tunnel. But now you can use it in the comfort of your home. Just two 15 minute treatments a day for 30 days cures symptoms in 97% of patients.
I wish you great success with whatever treatment you undergo. Remember, we’re here for you — and it’s fine to call us just to pick our brains!