Realistic Expectations (Carpal Tunnel Release)
The old technique of performing a carpal tunnel release by cutting through the palm resulted in a painful tender wound that persisted for weeks, months or even years, prohibiting the patient from using the hand normally. With the new endoscopic approach, however, this painful incision has been eliminated. Approximately 50 percent of our patients who have endoscopic carpal tunnel release performed have no tingling, numbness, pain or other complaints at ten days after surgery when the post operative splint, dressing and sutures are removed. The remaining 50 percent take some time longer to fully recover, and this time will depend upon the severity of compression of the nerve. Usually, the more tightly the nerve has been compressed, the longer it will take for the nerve to return to its normal size and function properly. If there has been permanent damage to the nerve, scar tissue forms within the nerve and it may be six months before the nerve stops improving and the end point may not be complete resolution of the tingling and numbness. This condition is best treated early and has predictably good results when there has been no permanent injury to the nerve. Two percent of patients will have anatomy unsuitable for endoscopic surgery and, in this case, the procedure will be converted to an open carpal tunnel release. Two percent of patients will have persistent symptoms and will require a subsequent open carpal tunnel release.