SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a common cause of numbness and tingling in the hand. It can occasionally cause weakness and clumsiness in the hand too. It affects about 10% of people in their lifetime.

Carpal tunnel happens when the median nerve, which travels through your wrist from your forearm to your hand, becomes squeezed. In healthy wrists, your median nerve is protected by your carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway of ligament and bone. If your tendons, which also pass through the carpal tunnel, become thickened or swell, then your carpal tunnel passageway narrows, pressing on your median nerve.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist that contains 9 tendons and 1 nerve, and it is surrounded by taut bones and ligaments. Some people have smaller tunnels than others, so sometimes carpal tunnel is genetic. It can also be related to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, pregnancy, and repetitive motion, such as keyboarding.

Depending on the severity of your carpal tunnel and how it affects your quality of life, several treatment options exist. Nonoperative treatments include splinting, hand therapy, anti- inflammatories, and steroid injections.

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
• One of the most common and successful hand operations performed.
• Relatively quick recovery depending on how long the median nerve has
been compressed in the carpal tunnel.
• Plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons are trained in hand surgery, and
both are able to perform carpal tunnel release surgery.

Endoscopic or Traditional Surgery?
• Cutting through the ligament that is pressing on the carpal tunnel allows
more room for the median nerve and tendons located within the narrow
space in the wrist.
• The surgery can be endoscopic or open release.
• Open release surgery is more traditional. Surgeons cut through the wrist.
• Both endoscopic and traditional surgery are outpatient surgeries.
• Each technique has advantages and disadvantages, but the final results in
decompression are equal when compared.

After Surgery
• Pain Management
o The typical pain management regimen is a combination of
acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
o It has been found that opioids are not needed in many instances.
• Post Surgery
o Don’t lift anything heavier than 1-2 pounds
o Avoid repetitive and strenuous activities.
o Recovery time for strenuous use may be 4-6 weeks or longer.
o In most cases physical therapy is not needed.

Visit University of Utah Health online for more information. Or call 801-585-HAND (4263).

Sponsored by University of Utah Health.