Carpal tunnel release treats the most common nerve compression problem, carpal tunnel syndrome. This occurs when the median nerve, which supplies feeling to the thumb, index, middle and usually ring fingers, is squashed as it runs over the front of the wrist. Typically this causes pins-and-needles in the fingers, clumsiness, pain or numbness and later, weakness. Interestingly, different people report a wide range of symptoms and some may be in the forearm or even upper arm.
Getting the diagnosis right in carpal tunnel syndrome is crucial because several conditions can mimic true carpal tunnel syndrome. Routinely, a detailed history, careful clinical examination and a nerve conduction study are employed. This usually allows a high degree of confidence before planning an operation.
The operation of carpal tunnel release is brief day-case surgery carried out under one of several anaesthetic options. The period of recovery afterwards involves a bulky dressing for one week, time with the hand therapist, sutures out at two weeks and a graduated return to normal activities. The time required for recovery varies and Mr Blake will discuss what to expect.
Mr William Blake